Two fighters in their first PFL Regular Seasons keep the Light Heavyweight action going as former UFC standout Krzysztof Jotko takes on fellow promotional newcomer Will Fleury. Jotko has six career knockouts and hopes the move from Middleweight to Light Heavyweight will increase his power and durability. Fleury, who trains with Conor McGregor, carries a four-fight win streak into this bout including a PFL Europe qualifier series bout to earn his spot in this year’s Regular Season.
The fight begins and Jotko lands two nice front kicks, forcing Fleury to shoot to get out of danger as he grapevines Jotko’s left leg and attempts to lock his hands. Jotko defends expertly using the whizzer and a low, wide base to fight off the takedown attempt as Fleury continues to cling and grind on Jotko along the fence.
Fleury lands some nice knees before Jotko is able to circle out and break as Fleury swings hard and nearly swings himself off his feet as it appears Jotko may have rolled an ankle. Jotko lands a nice left hand and has been clearly winning the exchanges at distance as Fleury is again forced to clinch but is quickly reversed by Jotko. Fleury lands a low blow and we’ll have a brief break in the action before a restart.
Jotko fires and misses with a heavy low kick as Fleury lands a nice front kick to the body of Jotko who lands a beautiful overhand right as Fleury looks to close distance. As he has anytime he’s gotten touched, Fleury shoots but is unable to finish as Jotko defends and lands a nice right hand on the break. Fleury keeps the pressure on as both men land heavy punches in the center of the SmartCage.
This time it’s Jotko who shoots, driving Fleury into the fence as the 10 second clapper hits and a competitive opening round comes to a close.
The second round begins following a replay that shows Jotko twisted his right ankle badly in that first round. Both fighters are trading short shots in the center of the SmartCage as Jotko shoots in and lands a single leg takedown on Fleury who instantly uses the fence to get back to his feet.
It appears the ankle injury has caused Jotko to change his game plan here, focusing on wrestling rather than striking at distance as Fleury is able to reverse position and flip Jotko into the fence.
Jotko is staying busy and throwing knees with his back pressed up to the fence as the pace seems to be slowing a bit here halfway through the second round. The fighters break and return to the center of the SmartCage as Jotko plods forward and lands a nice left hook on the chin of Fleury.
Fleury seems to be overextending a bit here and winding up out of position where Jotko is able to counter him, again landing a left and a right after a wild shot from Fleury. Jotko changes levels and shoots, dragging Fleury down to the mat with 90 seconds remaining in the round. Fleury is throwing some short shots here and Jotko returns fire as the round winds down.
Jotko lands on Fleury and secures a takedown! We go to the 3rd round!#2023PFL1 LIVE NOW— PFL (@PFLMMA) April 2, 2023
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Fleury works back to his feet but it’s too little too late as the bell rings and the round will end.
Both men appear to be breathing deeply as we begin our final stanza here in Las Vegas. Fleury shoots once again but Jotko uses the whizzer expertly to negate the danger and get his back to the fence as Jotko lands a nice shot on the clinch break.
Fleury sprawls hard as Jotko shoots and stuffs this attempt, getting backed up into the SmartCage and eventually reversing position as Fleury lands a big left hand that Jotko answers with a bigger knee to the head. Fleury now successfully lands a takedown but only briefly as Jotko works back to his feet with 2:45 remaining in the round.
Jotko again breaks the clinch and seems to be feeling the urgency now, walking Fleury down and landing another big left hand counter as Fleury misses big. Now it’s Jotko missing as Fleury is able to take the back on the feet but can’t do anything with it as Jotko gets back to the cage and gets his hips in.
This has been a grueling fight so far as Jotko lands a perfect outside trip into side control with just over a minute remaining in the round and this may very well steal him the fight if he can do some damage. Jotko lands some nice short punches but Fleury is able to get back to his feet before the end of the round, blitzing Jotko to end the fight.
Will Fleury edges out a razor close split decision for three points.
Will Fleury def. Krzysztof Jotko by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)