One of the two tallest competitors in the PFL’s heavyweight division this season, Steve Mowry made his professional MMA debut in 2016 and won four straight – with four finishes – before signing with Bellator. The Kill Cliff FC product, who trains under Gilbert Burns, went 6-1-1 in Bellator, with four submissions and two knockouts in his victories in the promotion. In fact, Mowry’s non-victories came in his three most recent fights – a no-contest and a decision loss to fellow 2024 heavyweight competitor Valentin Moldavsky and a draw with 2019 PFL heavyweight champion Ali Isaev.


Starting his professional MMA career in 2015, Oleg Popov made his name throughout Russia, winning a regional heavyweight title. Popov, who will be making his PFL debut tonight, lost in his third professional fight and has not lost since, bringing him to a 14-fight win streak entering tonight. Popov, who enters this fight with 11 finishes in his 16 victories, scored a win over Gokhan Saricam at Bellator 291 last year in his most recent fight.


Who will score the victory in the PFL’s first heavyweight fight of the 2024 regular season?



Round 1


Mowry comes out firing with kicks. Mowry lands a kick to the leg, and Popov responds with a body kick attempt. Popov pushes Mowry to the fence, but Mowry is quick to reverse the position. After some struggle, Popov scores the takedown and tries to work over Mowry from there. Mowry uses the fence to get back to his feet, but Popov refuses to let him go. Popov continues to pursue a takedown, but Mowry counters and he’s the one who ends up on top.


Mowry gets a body triangle locked in, and he’s looking for a choke. Popov is able to fight off the hands. With about a minute left, Mowry goes for a face crank before transitioning into a bulldog choke. Popov tries to land punches on Mowry, and Mowry elects to release the hold. Popov manages to improve his position but can’t do much with it as time expires.




Round 2


Popov lands a strong right hand and a left jab to the body to start the round. Mowry lands a couple of low kicks. Both men land with the right hand. One-two from Popov. Front kick by Mowry, and Popov presses him into the fence. Mowry is able to get out of his grasp with a little struggle. Mowry throws a knee, and Popov catches it, bringing the fight to the ground in Mowry’s guard. Mowry works his positioning and manages to get into side control, and then crucifix position, seemingly looking for an arm-triangle choke.


Popov worked over Mowry’s face with some punches. Mowry appears to be tired and he’s busted open one. Popov continues to land with the left hand. The referee is forced to step in due to the number of strikes Mowry was eating.



A strong second-round stoppage win for Oleg Popov!





Oleg Popov defeats Steve Mowry by 2nd round TKO (3:47), earning 5 points in the PFL Heavyweight Division.