• Stevie Ray proves that anything can happen in PFL
  • Rob Wilkinson looks like the favorite to become the PFL light heavyweight champion
  • The "Win or Go Home" adage truly embodies PFL's tournament format

The Professional Fighters League (PFL) kicked off its 2022 playoffs in a big way on Friday, August 5 at the Hulu Theater of the iconic Madison Square Garden in New York City.

PFL Playoff 1 saw semifinal bouts in the lightweight and light heavyweight divisions, with four fighters advancing to the million-dollar PFL championship bout.

The main event of the night featured Stevie Ray upsetting Anthony Pettis for the second-straight fight, which leads to the key takeaways for the aforementioned card.

Stevie Ray's Stock Shoots Up With Another Win Over Anthony Pettis

About six weeks ago, Scottish lightweight Stevie Ray was looking at seemingly insurmountable odds as he needed to pull off a first-round finish and upset top-seed Anthony Pettis just to get into the lightweight semifinals.

"Braveheart" did exactly that, submitting Pettis in the first round and setting up an immediate rematch between himself and the former UFC lightweight titleholder in the semifinals.

Many had written Ray's win as a fluke and had Pettis advancing to the million-dollar title bout.

This past Friday night, Ray proved the doubters wrong again as the unheralded Scotsman dominated Pettis for three rounds en route to another upset victory and advanced to the 2022 PFL world championships.

Now, Ray has the opportunity to change his life just two years after injuries nearly forced him to retire from mixed martial arts.

Stevie Ray, PFL
Stevie Ray (right) defeated Anthony Pettis (left) by unanimous decision during the semifinals of the 2022 PFL Playoffs on August 5. PFL

PFL Could Have Found New 205-Pound Star In Rob Wilkinson

Australian light heavyweight Rob Wilkinson's 2022 PFL campaign has largely flown under the radar, which is quite surprising given how dominant he has been so far.

In his two elimination round matches, Wilkinson scored back-to-back knockout finishes of Bruce Souto and Viktor Pesta to earn the top seed in the light heavyweight standings.

Last Friday, Wilkinson added another highlight-reel KO win, taking down fourth-seeded Delan Monte with a knee in the first round to advance to the 205-pound title bout.

Wilkinson has been nothing short of dominant in his PFL run so far, and in the finals, he could cement his place in history as the league's fourth light heavyweight champion.

Robert Wilkinson, PFL
Rob Wilkinson (left) knocked out Delan Monte (right) with a knee to advance to the PFL light heavyweight championship bout against Omari Akhmdeov. PFL

'Win or Go Home' Maxim Holds True In PFL

PFL prides itself on a tournament-style format that rewards the fighters for their performances as the better the fighters perform, the bigger shot they have of winning the season, claiming the world title and the million-dollar jackpot.

Throughout the season, it is no secret that a loss can derail an athlete's championship hopes in a massive way.

The "Win or Go Home" maxim is highlighted even more in the postseason, where a top-seeded fighter like Anthon Pettis can have an off night and effectively say goodbye to his title hopes.

At PFL Playoffs 1, Pettis came up short against Stevie Ray again and it cost him a chance to advance to the finals.

The same result could have happened to the likes of Rob Wilkinson, Omari Akhmedov, and Olivier Aubin-Mercier--all higher-seeded fighters--and put their perfect regular seasons to waste.

Fortunately for those three, they managed to get their wins and they'll be moving on to the finals.

In PFL, especially in the playoffs, the said adage holds water until the very end of the campaign.

The postseason wars continue this Saturday, August 13 with PFL Playoffs 2 at the Cardiff Motor Point Arena in Wales, United Kingdom, featuring semifinal bouts in the welterweight and heavyweight divisions.

The PFL Playoffs are available live in the United States on ESPN and ESPN+.

Olivier Aubin-Mercier, PFL
Olivier Aubin-Mercier (left) defeated Alexander Martinez (right) in the semifinals of the lightweight tournament during the PFL Playoffs on August 5, 2022. PFL