A self-described aggressive fighter, the 6-1 Abdullah Al-Qahtani is the PFL’s first-ever fighter from Saudi Arabia. Al-Qahtani, whose journey in martial arts began with wrestling and Muay Thai, made his PFL debut in a Showcase bout exactly two months ago in Atlanta, where he scored a first-round submission of Lamar Brown.
After an 8-4 record on the amateur circuit, which saw him pick up gold at featherweight and lightweight, David Zelner made his professional MMA debut in 2021. A jiu-jitsu specialist, the 4-2 Zelner makes his PFL debut tonight after wins in two of his last three fights. He most recently fought in April, dropping a decision to Isaac Reulas.
This featherweight showcase fight presents a big opportunity for both men tonight.
Zelner starts with a leg kick. Al-Qahtani lands hard to the body to start. Strong combination by Al-Qahtani. Hook by Al-Qahtani. Al-Qahtani lays in a flurry before Zelner goes in for a takedown — only to be stopped by Al-Qahtani. Zelner is already bloody under his left eye. More strong strikes from Al-Qahtani. Al-Qahtani with a knee and follow-up strikes. Right hand by Al-Qahtani as he is just pounding away on Zelner around the cage! One-two with an uppercut by Al-Qahtani. And again. Zelner tries to get a hold of Al-Qahtani, but he stuffs another takedown attempt.
Leg kick by Zelner. Right hand by Al-Qahtani. Left hand by Al-Qahtani. Leg kick by Al-Qahtani. Another right hand wobbles Zelner again. Another hand drops Zelner. Zelner gets up, but Al-Qahtani is still on the offense. Spinning back kick to the body by Al-Qahtani. Zelner tries to fight back with a punch and leg kick, but he just doesn’t have the production or speed. The two trade in the center with about 50 seconds left, and Zelner goes for another takedown. Zelner pins Al-Qahtani against the fence, but that’s all he can get.
A couple of lefts and a one-two from Al-Qahtani. Another couple of shots but Zelner has better defense and starts to work his own combinations. A couple of lefts from Al-Qahtani. Zelner goes in but can’t get a hold of Al-Qahtani. Left hand by Al-Qahtani. Hook and an uppercut by Al-Qahtani. Combination by Al-Qahtani, but Zelner fires off a one-two. Al-Qahtani continues to work his left jab and combinations. Al-Qahtani with another combination.
Catching a kick, Al-Qahtani goes to the ground and ends up on top in Zelner’s guard. Al-Qahtani gets in some shots from on top before Zelner brings the fight back to the feet. Al-Qahtani with a couple of leg kicks. Right hand and a kick by Zelner. Al-Qahtani lands another leg kick. Combination by Al-Qahtani. And another. Zelner comes forward, but Al-Qahtani keeps pace and finds openings. Big leg kick ruins Zelner’s balance. Left hand and a leg kick by Al-Qahtani. Leg kick by Zelner. Round kick to the body by Al-Qahtani.
Zelner tries to work combinations at the start of the third round. Leg kick by Zelner. Al-Qahtani clinches, but Zelner punches through it and gets Al-Qahtani pinned against the SmartCage. Al-Qahtani reverses the position before the two break it up. Al-Qahtani snaps Zelner’s head back with a punch A couple of left hands from Al-Qahtani. Right hand by Al-Qahtani. The two trade in the pocket. Low kick by Zelner. Left hand by Al-Qahtani. Low kicks by Al-Qahtani. Zelner misses a right hand. Low kick and a combination by Al-Qahtani.
Al-Qahtani with another combination. Al-Qahtani with a left hook to the body. Leg kick by Zelner. Right hand by Zelner as he tries to come forward. Al-Qahtani with a right hand and another combination. Low kick by Zelner. Right hand by Al-Qahtani. Front kick by Al-Qahtani. A leg kick by Al-Qahtani seemed to hurt Zelner, who goes in for a takedown but gets stopped. Right hand by Al-Qahtani as the two travel around the SmartCage. Low kick by Al-Qahtani. Zelner lands a solid right on the chin. Al-Qahtani with a left hand and a low kick.
Abdullah Al-Qahtani def. David Zelner via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-25)