PFL Challenger Series 4 Betting Picks and Full Card Preview

PFL Challenger Series Week 4

It’s PFL Challenger Series week #4 and we’re breaking down our top betting picks for the featherweight tournament. Place your bets before Friday, March 11th, 2022 at 9:00PM ET by clicking any of our Place Bet Now buttons linking straight to 

This is MMA betting at its finest, and close analysis of this card will give you a good look into the  Semi Finalists who will go on in the million dollar tournament. 

PFL Challenger Series #4 Main Event: Reinaldo Ekson vs Mike Barnett

Ekson is an MMA veteran who’s fought in EFC and local Brazilian MMA since 2012. He the #39 featherweight in Brazil and faces off against Barnett, a locally ranked lightweight who’s been looking for the right move to featherweight. Barnett is a knockout artist who has gone 5-2 over his last seven, finishing all five fighters via knockout finish. 

Tale of the Tape for Ekson vs Barnett

Fighter Reinaldo ‘Guerreiro’ Ekson ‘Iron’ Mike Barnett
Age 33 32
Height 5’9’’ NA 
Reach/Stance NA NA
Record 17-5 10-3
Submissions/TKO  7/3 0/7
Losses via Sub/TKO 2/1 1/0
Fighter Training Camp Pitbull Brothers  Port City Combat Sports 

Barnett has fewer fights but a better finishing percentage. He’s never been knocked out, and has a 70% finishing ratio. It’s clear he’s looking to out-strike Ekson, who’s seven career submission wins include three back to back submission wins over his last three fights for EFC. 

Pitbull Brothers is a highly esteemed Brazilian fight camp with many fighters at the highest levels of UFC, Bellator, and Invicta. 

Barnett is the striking coach at Port City Sports. He trains alongside UFC fighters like Brok Weaver and up and comers like Justin Prescott. I would give Pitbull Brothers and Ekson the edge, especially considering he is surrounded by better strikers than himself, where Barnett is the coach and will have few people pushing his kickboxing abilities. 

Betting Odds and Odds History 

Bet Available at Odds  
Ekson Money Line -300
Barnett Money Line +240
Over 1 ½ Rounds -150
Under 1 ½ Rounds  +120

Ekson is a serious favorite and many analysts see him as a shoe-in for the submission victory. Ekson has a short odds history, showing up to the EFC at +200 and -350, winning both fights by submission in 2021. 

Over Under Analysis

Ekson has finished only one of his last three fights before the 1 ½ Rounds mark. Barnett has finished many fights in the first round, but his last two decisions were against Clay Harvison and Max Mustaki. Both fighters are quality kickboxers. One was in the UFC and the other DWCS. With the right level of striking defense, a fighter will see the distance with Barnett often. Neither fighter leaves us with enough confidence in either direction, but with PFL and so much cash on the line, we’ve been shocked at the number of fighters coming out to finish quickly.  

Fight Tape for Ekson

Ekson’s losses have been via quality BJJ fighters. He was kneebarred by Willian Cilli in a fight that he was competitive in. Ekson’s wrestling is an issue for me, and he tends to pull guard often and give up rounds if it means getting in submission attempts. His fight with Marcelo Marques shows a similar story, where he ends up outwrestling him and slowly picking him apart for a unanimous decision win. If Barnett proves to be the more physical fighter, I’m sure he has enough BJJ to survive a few ground exchanges and stay off his back against Ekson, who’s takedown game is limited to hip throws and the occasional body lock. 

Fight Tape for Barnett

Barnett mainly fights at lightweight, probably due to lack of competition in Alabama. In fights that he lost, Barnett was outsized significantly, as against Jesse Butler. 
Barnett’s takedown game is solid, and he’s got serious power in the opening rounds, but his tendency to give up his back is worrying against Ekson. 
Barnett’s most recent fight showed him gaining the knockout over 2-10 Clarence Brown. I think featherweight is a better division for Barnett, but the featherweight cut will be his first in years. 

PFL Challenger Series Betting Pick

We’re putting our money on the Under 1 ½ Rounds Prop bet at +120. Mike has an 80% finish rate over his last five in the first round, and Ekson has a 40% finishing rate. With a high rate of finish, the PFL million dollar pressure, and a striker versus grappler match up, we see an early night for the main event. 

PFL Challenger Series #4 Co Main Event: Edwin Cooper Jr. vs Troy Lamson

Lamson is coming off back to back losses, but hasn’t fought since February of last year. He faces Edwin Cooper, who’s recent three fight winning streak included a knockout over undefeated Robson Junior. 

Tale of the Tape for Cooper vs Lamson

Fighter Edwin Cooper Jr Troy ‘Pretty Boy’ Lamson 
Age 29 30
Height 6’1’’ 6’1’’
Reach/Stance NA 75’’ Orthodox 
Record 5-1 13-4
Submissions/TKO  0/3 6/4
Losses via Sub/TKO 1/0 2/0
Fighter Training Camp Jackson Wink MMA  Sanford MMA 

Troy has the experience advantage but the finishing percentage is close to 60% for both fighters. Troy has recently switched camps from Murcielago MMA to the prestigious Sanford MMA. To me, it’s unfortunate these two fighters were seated in the first round; they could easily make it to the finals if posted on opposite sides of the eight man bracket. 

Betting Odds and Odds History 

Bet Available at Odds  
Cooper Money Line -340
Lamson Money Line +265
Over 2 ½ Rounds -165
Under 2 ½ Rounds  +135

Cooper has been the favorite in all betting odds to date, ranging from a -200 to -450 over his last four, with unknown odds in his loss to Sean Ceveny. This is Lamson’s first fight with betting odds. 

Over Under Analysis

I would have said the under for this bout, given that both fighters have wins and losses in the very first round. However Lamson’s move to Sanford MMA and his wrestling base give me faith that this fight could go the distance. Good wrestlers like Dustin Parrish have taken Lamson to decision, but Cooper has seen only one career decision. 

Edwin Cooper wrestled Ethyn Ewing for fifteen minutes, unable to find his rhythm striking in his one decision win. Cooper’s normal pace is breakneck, and many can’t keep it. 

Fight Tape and Final Betting Pick

Looking at Cooper’s one loss, you see a very frustrating bad call by a ref. Cooper didn’t tap to a submission but the ref stopped it anyway despite it’s safe position. I’ve seen no weaknesses in the Edwin Cooper gameplan, and many Lamson. 

Lamson looks lean at 145, and he’s going to get out sized to Cooper who’s made this cut many times before.

Our final betting pick is Edwin Cooper Jr at -340. I’m skipping the over because of Cooper’s TKO power, and so should you. This is my top Parlay bout, look for other fights through the weekend to fill a parlay ticket.

PFL Challenger Series #4 Main Card: Do Gyeom Lee vs Boston Salmon 

These two fighters have the best combined finishing percentage of any bout on the card. Salmon was recently released from the UFC and Gyeom is coming off the fourth loss of his career.  

Tale of the Tape for Lee vs Salmon 

Fighter Do Gyeom Lee Boston ‘Boom Boom’ Salmon
Age 31 31
Height 5’7’’ 5’9’’
Reach/Stance 69’’ 72’’
Record 8-4 7-3
Submissions/TKO  2/5 0/4
Fighter Training Camp Moira Training Center  Xtreme Couture

Lee is the smaller fighter but has a better finishing percentage among wins. He’s been finished three times in his professional career and another three times in his four fight amatuer career. Salmon was knocked out twice in the UFC but hasn't done too badly outside of the promotion. His new camp at Xtreme Couture has improved his grappling defense as well. Salmon has never been submitted in his career, and Lee is more of an opportunist when it comes to submissions. 

Betting Odds and Odds History 

Bet Available at Odds  
Lee Money Line -125
Salmon Money Line -105
Over 2 ½ Rounds +115
Under 2 ½ Rounds  -145

Salmon was a favorite in his losses to Riley, Costa and Taha ranging from -150 to -300. Lee was the favorite in his loss to Ali Alqaisi in his last showing. 

This bout is the closest in odds on the card, and in either fighter's career to date. 

Over Under Analysis

Oddsmakers see an early finish. Salmon was knocked out twice in the first round in the UFC, and Lee has seen five six round finishes, win or lose, over his last six fights. 

Our final betting pick is the under 2 ½ Rounds at -145. These fighters swing for the fences and both of them have issues keeping their chin together. 

PFL Challenger Series #4 Main Card: Scottie Stockman vs Brahyan Zurcher 

The opening fight of the evening features a nearly undefeated wrestler with knockout power in Stockman facing off against an undefeated green professional in Zurcher. 

Tale of the Tape for Stockman vs Zurcher

Fighter Scottie Stockman Brahyan Zucher
Age 28 26
Height 5’9’’ 5’10’’
Record 3-1 2-0
Submissions/TKO  0/2 2/0
Fighter Training Camp Roufusport MMA  NA, BJJ school 

Stockman also has wins in professional boxing including several knockouts. He was a college level wrestler and displays that in his takedown defense and top pressure game. 

Zurcher is training out of Nevada, where there are plenty of BJJ schools to be active in, but it’s unclear which one. In his amatuer career, he lost several decisions and one TKO loss. 


Betting Odds and Odds History 

Bet Available at Odds  
Stockman Money Line -200
Zurcher Money Line +160
Over 2 ½ Rounds -105
Under 2 ½ Rounds  -125

Stockman is the favorite, and for good reason. Zurcher’s wins have both been comebacks. He’s losing rounds, wearing down the opponent, and then coming back with a  submission win. It’s not a reliable strategy long term, and I don’t see Zurcher out grappling Stockman. 

Our PFL Challenger #4 betting pick for the opening bout is the Stockman money line at -200. 



Jacob Clark / Author

Jacob Clark had a 15 year career as a professional MMA fighter, coach, and Greg Jackson’s alum. Now, TikTok’s 12th most important BJJ influencer is bringing his sports and betting knowledge to you here at TheSportsGeek. He spends his time cooking vietnamese food and playing D&D with his family. You can meet him at jiu-jitsu open mats all over Indiana.

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