In a rematch of a 2021 PFL regular season bout, Sadibou Sy (9-6-2) takes on Nikolai Aleksakhin (24-6-1NC). Unfortunately for both men, last year’s bout ended by no contest in the second round due to an eye poke from Sy.
A 2-time PFL semifinalist, Sy is looking to finally get over the hump this year and bring home the gold and 1 million dollar prize. As a former Muay Thai and Swedish kickboxing national champion, Sy brings an undeniable kicking game to the Smartcage and will look to utilize it tonight.
Another PFL veteran, Aleksakhin looks to right the ship after an 0-1-1 2021 regular season that saw him miss the playoffs, though his only loss came to eventual champion Ray Cooper III.
Both men are hoping for a more definitive ending than the last time they met.
Sy takes the center of the cage and the rematch is officially underway. Early on Aleksakhin seems to have a speed advantage, getting in and out with quick straight punches before Sy has a chance to respond.
Aleksakhin wisely starts chopping at Sy’s legs early with the hope of slowing him down and neutralizing those nasty kicks Sy is known for.
Oh my, Sy tries to engage in the pocket and Aleksakhin catches a thumb directly in the eye in an unfortunate case of déjà vu. Sy receives a hard warning from the ref as Aleksakhin takes his time to attempt to recover and regain his vision.
After about 2 minutes, Aleksakhin says he’s ready to go and the action is back on. Aleksakhin is right back to fighting behind his jab and relying on quick entrances and exits to get the offense off.
Sy times up the entry on the jab and counters with a nice hook that causes Aleksakhin to rethink his strategy. Sy is switching stances constantly, partially in response to low kicks and partially to just mix up the looks he’s showing.
Sy is biting hard on feints as Aleksakhin continues attacking the legs. Sy lands a nice lead roundhouse but seems to be having trouble using the kicks he’s most known for. Sy lands another big roundhouse that instantly reddens the torso of Aleksakhin and Sy might be finding the range and picking up some steam now as Aleksahkin’s corner calls for pressure.
Both men exchange low kicks and with 10 seconds to go Aleksakhin narrowly misses a big hook kick and that’ll be the round.
Aleksakhin opens the round with similar aggression, throwing a hard 1-2 at the jump. Aleksakhin narrowly blocks a lightning quick high kick from Sy and Aleksakhin is right back to chopping down Sy’s legs.
Sy seems to be less willing to fight off his back foot in this round and is trying to hold the center of the cage but he still gets backed up when Aleksakhin blitzes. Sy throwing a lot of naked kicks and would be well served to try to string together some combinations.
Aleksakhin catches him with a big flurry halfway through the round and Sy petitions the ref for a low blow but doesn’t get the time out.
Sy seems to catch Aleksakhin with another eye poke but Aleksakhin shrugs it off and they continue fighting. Sy lands a nice body kick but Aleksakhin seems to be leading the dance in this round.
With 30 seconds remaining, Sy misses a kick, and Aleksakhin blitzes with a big right hand. He doesn’t connect but initiates the clinch and the round will end with Aleksakhin wearing Sy on the cage.
For the longer fighter, Sy seems to be struggling with range and putting his offense together.
Aleksahkin opens the round with a big right that knocks Sy back and once again Sy is being pressed into fighting off his back foot.
They exchange low kicks and Aleksakhin continues plodding forward as Sy attempts to throw low kicks to keep him at bay.
90 seconds into the round Aleksakhin wisely initiates the clinch but Sy is able to reverse position as the fighters grind each other out.
Aleksakhin slips out the backdoor of the body lock and lands a beautiful takedown, but is unable to keep Sy there as he pops right back up and they again jockey for position along the cage. It looked like Aleksakhin was going to be able to get it back to the ground but Sy does a great job fighting it off and attempts a takedown of his own.
Aleksakhin is fighting off the takedown but Sy looks to use his size to just muscle him down and take the back. Sy would be wise to get off some knees to the body and legs here but Aleksakhin hits a gorgeous switch and gets the takedown but once again Sy pops right back up, a frustrating sequence for the Russian.
The 10-second clapper goes off and we will continue our trend of razor-close decisions to start off this PFL3 card, it’s anyone’s fight and I for one do not envy the judges.
Another split decision with a 30-27 on one side, it’s that kind of night I guess, FPR and the booth both had it for Aleksakhin but Sadibou Sy gets the split decision and 3 points in the welterweight standings.
Sadibou Sy def. Nikolai Aleksakhin via Split Decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28)