Movlid Khaybulaev pushes Chris Wade against the cage in a featherweight...

Movlid Khaybulaev pushes Chris Wade against the cage in a featherweight championship bout during the PFL championships at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on October 27, 2021 in Hollywood, Florida. Credit: PFL/Cooper Neill

Islip-raised Chris Wade lost in the Professional Fighters League featherweight championship Wednesday in Hollywood, Florida, falling to Movlid Khaybulaev via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45).

Khaybulaev (19-0-1, 1 NC), a Russian wrestler, out-grappled Wade (20-7) for large stretches of their fight to take the title, plus the $1 million prize awarded to each PFL champion.

Wade, 34, was seeking his first belt for a major MMA promotion. The loss wraps a 3-1 campaign for Wade in PFL’s third season, his first at featherweight after losing in the lightweight semifinals in the 2018-19 seasons. He defeated Anthony Davis and Arman Ospanov in the regular season before a win over Bubba Jenkins in the semis.

Khaybulaev landed the first big blow of the night, catching Wade behind the ear with a hook. The Russian pushed Wade into the cage soon after, and Wade eventually broke free, but Khaybulaev’s next takedown attempt succeeded in keeping the Lier on the ground, and later against the fence while both worked strikes. When Khaybulaev again brought the fight down, Wade left his back exposed, allowing Khaybulaev to grab hold and look for a choke in the round’s closing moments.

When the fighters emerged from their corners, Khaybulaev soon brought them back to the cage, keeping Wade trapped until referee Gary Copeland moved them back to the center for inaction. Wade struggled to capitalize despite having some breathing room, and the fight returned to the clinch once more. In the final minute, Khaybulaev landed a knee to open a cut above Wade’s eye, then pulled Wade to the mat as the blood flowed at round’s end.

In the third, Khaybulaev sought to get Wade back on the mat, but struggled to do so cleanly as the pair grappled for the opening minutes. When they were again separated with 90 seconds left, Khaybulaev was able to get his hands on Wade, and by round’s end, he again was wrapped around Wade’s back on the ground. The LIer had little luck early in the fourth, winding up on his back and spending much of the round there. He managed to escape in the final 30 seconds for a submission attempt, but Khaybulaev slipped out with ease and again finished with a takedown.

The fight stayed on the feet early in the final frame, but Khaybulaev still spent much of that time clutching Wade’s back and again pushing him into the cage. Wade looked to have chances at a few arm and leg locks as the round wore on, but Khaybulaev stayed in control. Wade continued punching from his back in the final moments, but couldn’t do enough as the final bell ended his PFL campaign short of a title once more.

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