A jack of all trades, Zach Juusola has competed in collegiate wrestling, kickboxing, boxing, and bare knuckle fighting. He returns to the SmartCage following a Challenger Series win to take on Brandon Jenkins, who returns to the PFL after a brief stint elsewhere. This is a non-season Welterweight Showcase bout, so no points or playoff seeding will be in play.
The bell rings and this showcase bout is underway as Jenkins fires a high kick and a low kick behind it and Juusola returns fire with a jab. Jenkins is doing a nice job throwing strikes in combination so far landing a nice body kick with a nice right hook behind it.
Jenkins is all volume right now, throwing everything from flying knees to jabs to body uppercuts and landing with most of it early but Juusola lands a nice right hand that forces Jenkins to retreat momentarily.
Juusola is starting to land a power jab now and throws a heavy body kick behind it but Jenkins is still landing with volume but Juusola lands a big right hand that seems to have Jenkins wobbled! Juusola keeps the pressure on but Jenkins is able to circle out and reset and get his legs back under him but Juusola is keeping on him and not letting him fully reset.
Juusola lands a nice knee to the body followed by a one-two and he’s having a lot of success with those long linear punches early here as Jenkins lands a heavy knee to the body in the pocket. Juusola lands another one-two and Jenkins looks a bit wobbly on his feet but lands a big right hand up top of his own before doubling up to the body.
Juusola lands another power one-two and Jenkins is in trouble here! But Jenkins bites down on the mouthpiece and fires a big uppercut to buy himself enough space to reset. Juusola senses he has Jenkins hurt and keeps the pressure on but Jenkins just keeps on coming, throwing to the body and peppering inside low kicks whenever Juusola isn’t actively landing.
Jenkins lands a big body shot and then lands a high kick before getting tagged with another one-two! With 10 seconds left Jenkins is in survival mode with Juusola swarming! Jenkins seems to have no idea where he’s at as his corner gets to work patching him up.
Round two begins and Jenkins is still bleeding from the nose but he’s coming out swinging, landing a nice right to the body of Juusola but he’s keeping his head on the center line and allowing Juusola to tee off whenever he’s not throwing.
Oh! Juusola lands another monster one-two and Jenkins is hurt once again. Jenkins shoots to buy himself some time but he dives right into a D’arce attempt from Juusola. Jenkins is able to escape and attempt an arm bar before getting to the fence and working back to his feet.
Jenkins is still coming forward and throwing but seems a bit off and is still on wobbly legs but Juusola might be running out of gas here as Jenkins lands a nice knee to the head of Juusola that seems to stun him! What a back and forth affair halfway through round two.
Jenkins is trying to fight his way back into this one with volume and he’s landing some big right hands in the clinch as Juusola takes a big breath and resets. Juusola looks spent here but he’s still throwing as Jenkins catches Juusola with a big right hand and wobbles him! Jenkins senses he’s got him hurt and keeps the pressure on, forcing Juusola to shoot but defending well! Juusola eats another big right hand from Jenkins and both of these men look like zombies in the SmartCage at this point.
Juusola lands a nice knee and seems to be catching a bit of a second wind before telegraphing a takedown, but then landing a one-two and punctuating it with a power uppercut.
Both men have absorbed major punishment at this point and somehow or another we’re going to see a third round here!.
Somehow we begin our third round and it does appear Juusola is more fatigued as Jenkins is still throwing volume to begin the round. Juusola lands a nice left hand that stops Jenkins in his tracks momentarily but he goes right back to marching forward and lands a nice spinning backfist.
Jenkins lands a nice right hand and Juusola returns fire with a left as Juusola keeps the pressure going and stuns Jenkins again. Jenkins lands a heavy outside low and now lands a big high kick that wobbles Juusola! Juusola somehow stays on his feet just clinching to survive before returning fire and landing some nice shots of his own. We’ll have a break in the action as Jenkins is reprimanded for an illegal elbow strike.
We restart the action and again Jenkins appears to be the fresher fighter, landing a nice left hand that gets a reaction. We get another pause in the action for an eye poke from Jenkins. We restart the action with two minutes remaining and they’re standing and banging in the pocket as Jenkins lands some heavy shots.
Not to be outdone, Juusola again marches forward and lands the one-two but Jenkins is undeterred, marching forward and eating a big left hand from Juusola that gets a big reaction. Juusola wisely shoots a takedown and lands in top half guard with a minute remaining and he may be able to steal this round if he can stay busy and do some damage here.
Juusola is throwing big body punches here as Jenkins doesn’t seem to have enough in the tank to get back up. We somehow go the distance in an absolute slobber knocker and it’s up to the judges now.
Zach Juusola and Brandon Jenkins put on a Fight of the Year Candidate that fans will long remember!
Zach Juusola def. Brandon Jenkins by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27)