Jesse Stirn is a man familiar with the PFL SmartCage. During the 2021 season, Stirn competed twice, losing to Sheymon Moraes during the regular season before a decision loss to Anthony Dizy in a prelim bout during the playoffs. Since his original pair of PFL appearances, Stirn has won four straight, most recently defeating Ryan MacDonald via unanimous decision.
Josh Blyden has found decent success on the regional circuit since making his professional MMA debut in 2014. Blyden, who comes into his PFL debut sporting a 9-2 record, has won his last three and four of his last five, though he has not competed in an MMA bout since March 2021. A former featherweight champion in the regional scene, who also placed in the IBJJF Worlds in 2019, Blyden’s last fight came in March 2021, which saw him defeat Gui Curry via split decision.
Both men will look to make an impression during this Featherweight Showcase bout that kicks off the PFL World Championships opening card.
Blyden starts out on the front foot, working the left hand. Both men throw kicks. Blyden shoots in and gets to Stirn’s back in the first 30 seconds. Blyden gets the takedown, but Stirn gets back to his feet. Blyden gets another takedown and gets the hooks in despite Stirn getting back to his feet. Blyden takes Stirn down again briefly and lands a knee as Stirn returns to his feet. Blyden gets him down once more, and Stirn can’t get any sort of successful struggle going. Blyden is fighting Stirn’s hands but maintains the grip. Stirn finally gets chest-to-chest halfway through the round and gets Blyden’s back to the SmartCage. Stirn lands a couple of strong knees to Blyden’s body.
The two separate with about two minutes to go in the first. Low kick from Blyden. Blyden misses a small combination, and Stirn comes forward again. Stirn lands a knee and gets a takedown on Blyden. Blyden scrambles up and uses the fence to get back to his feet. Stirn sweeps and takes Blyden down again. Stirn went for a crucifix, but Blyden worked out of it and got back on top. They return to their feet with 45 seconds left. Blyden with a couple of kicks up top. The two trade low kicks. Stirn misses an overhand but lands a round kick to the body. Right hand by Blyden. Stirn backs up Blyden with a couple of right hands. Stirn lands to the body and lands a hard right hand before the bell.
Stirn looking for a few low kicks to start the round. Blyden shoots in for a takedown as the two struggle against the SmartCage. Stirn lands a few right hands to the body before reversing position and getting Blyden against the fence. Stirn lands a big knee that rocks Blyden. Stirn goes for a combination, but Blyden holds on. Stirn lands on the inside as the two battle in close against the fence. Stirn pins Blyden against the fence, but Blyden recovers and the fight returns to the center.
Blyden dodges an attack from Stirn and gets to the back, pinning Stirn against the fence again. Stirn, however, reverses the position once more, having Blyden’s back as the two return to the fence. Blyden looks to stop Stirn’s usage of the arms, but Stirn gets out and gets Blyden down again. Blyden looks for a leg lock, but Stirn gets out of it and allows Blyden to return to his feet. Solid right hand by Stirn as the two trade. Another combination from Stirn. Blyden looks tired as the two battle in a clinch. Right hand by Stirn as Blyden’s back is to the SmartCage. Right hook lands for Stirn. Knee to the head while the two are in close. Another right hand from Stirn and Blyden is feeling it as the round comes to an end.
Blyden looks to get something going, working a jab and some low kicks in the opening seconds. Blyden goes for a high kick, but it’s blocked. Stirn lands a strong right. The two trade low kicks. Left hands from Blyden. Another left hand from Blyden. Both trade kicks to the body. Low kick by Stirn. Combination by Stirn. Low kick from Blyden. Stirn goes in, but Blyden dodges an attempt to grapple. Blyden misses a left. Both land low kicks. A couple of leg kicks from Stirn.
Left hand from Blyden misses. Blyden catches a low kick and lands to the body. Blyden with a sharp right hand. Stirn lands a round kick. Combination by Stirn backs Blyden up to the SmartCage. Blyden reverses position before the two quickly return to the center. Blyden lands a left to the body. Round kick by Stirn. Push kick by Stirn as Blyden lands a right. Stirn with a couple of low kicks. Stirn presses Blyden to the fence and gets to Blyden’s back. Blyden goes for a kimura grip but Stirn lets him off the fence. Stirn with a couple more low kicks late. Stirn lands a jumping knee and pressures Blyden. Stirn closes the fight by scoring another takedown on Blyden.
Jesse Stirn def. Josh Blyden via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)