PFL goes Hollywood this week! But it’s Hollywood, Florida this time around.
Not that it’s a bad thing, we hear great things about the area. But what’s really good is this PFL playoff situation, because this is the most unpredictable PFL season so far.
Former UFC contender and Bellator champ Rory MacDonald (22-7, 1 draw) had a quick submission win to start the year against Curtis Millender, but suffered a split decision loss against Gleison Tibau. Now he’s up against former champ Ray Cooper III (22-7, 1 draw), who also started the year with a submission win over Frenchman Jason Ponet, and went on to win a decision against Nikolay Aleksakhin. With his devastating knockout power, farm strength and opportunistic submission game, he’s a threat to MacDonald’s million-dollar jackpot aspirations.
Magomed Magomedkerimov (28-5) was supposed to face João Zeferino, but Zeferino had to withdraw. This led to former middleweight Sadibou Sy (9-5, 2 draws) making his way in as a replacement. This is the second time a fight between Magomedkerimov and Zeferino fails to materialize, but Magomedkerimov’s quick submission win over Curtis Millender in June gave him enough points to be here. For his part, Sy had a no-contest against Aleksakhin and a decision win over Alexey Kunchenko.
Magomedkerimov should be a strong favorite to clear the field here, with a fully-equipped Sambo background that has been adapted perfectly for the demands of modern MMA. Slick striking, good clinch striking, pressure and submissions are all there for him. Sy has durability, strength, great use of range and pretty great fight IQ to get ahead, and might still be at something of a disadvantage.
Anthony Pettis had some heavy expectations to arrive and make a big splash in PFL, and ended up with two upset losses against Clay Collard and Raush Manfio. Now the two men that tossed a bucked of cold water on those expectations are to face each other as Collard (20-8) has his lauded boxing game and takedown defense against Manfio’s (13-3) brings his calculated and well-rounded striking to the table. Manfio can mix things up well and disengage at will, then lull opponents into clinch opportunities and press them against the cage to soak up time on the clock and do cumulative damage. Collard works best in open spaces with counters and lots of forward pressure, but can potentially big brother Manfio in the clinch. Collard’s confidence in his striking is bolstered by the fact that his ground game is nothing to scoff at either. We should expect a standup battle, and a good one at that.
Finisher Alex Martinez (8-1) was a bit of a surprise this year, being largely untested due to spotty opposition. He managed to earn a split decision win over Loik Radzhabov earlier this year and suffered a loss against Natan Schulte. Now Martinez and Radzhabov (14-3, 1 draw) get to run it back After Radzhabov gave Akhmed Aliev the treatment earlier this year.
As far as prelim action goes, some familiar faces get to grace the PFL cage. Darrell Horcher (14-4) brings his rugged wrestling style against Olivier Aubin-Mercier in a battle of former UFC tough guys. Former Bellator, KSW and ACB standout Brett Cooper (27-15) meets former Contender Series contestant Tyler Hill (10-5).
Finally, undefeated prospect Magomed Umalatov (10-0) is one to keep your eye on. He meets UFC and ACB vet Leandro Silva. (25-9, 1 draw).
You can watch the weigh-ins here.
Weigh-in results are as follows:
Rory MacDonald (170.75) vs. Ray Cooper III (169.75) – Welterweight Playoff
Sadibou Sy (169.25) vs. Magomed Magomedkerimov (171) – Welterweight Playoff
Clay Collard (155.75) vs. Raush Manfio (156) – Lightweight Playoff
Loik Radzhabov (156) vs. Alexander Martinez (155.5) – Lightweight Playoff
Curtis Millender (170.5) vs. Micah Terrill (170.75) – Welterweight
Darrell Horcher (159.25)* vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier (155.5) – Lightweight
Tyler Hill (171) vs. Brett Cooper (169.75) – Welterweight
Magomed Umalatov (171) vs. Leandro Silva (172.5)** – Welterweight
Kyron Bowen (170.5) vs. Michael Lombardo (171) – Welterweight
Elvin Espinoza (155.25) vs. Hopeton Stewart (154.75) – Lightweight
PFL 2021 playoffs prelims streaming on ESPN+ starting at 5:30pm EST, and the main card simulcast on ESPN+ as well as ESPN2 starting at 9:00pm.
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