PFL’s four-event playoffs will kick off on Friday night with semi-final fights in the lightweight and welterweight divisions. In the main event of the card, former Bellator Champion Rory MacDonald will challenge defending welterweight champion Ray Cooper III.
Along with the four playoff fights on the main card, the promotion will showcase six showcase bouts on their prelims from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino from Hollywood, Florida, USA. Follow along throughout the evening for live updates.
Preliminary Card (5:30PM EDT) (ESPN+ / TSN Direct)
Main Card (9:00PM EDT) (ESPN+ / TSN 2)
Bout 10: Rory MacDonald (22-7-1) vs. Ray Cooper III (22-7-1) (Welterweight)
Cooper III Uses Wrestling To Sweep MacDonald on Scorecards, Advances To Finals
2019 PFL Champion Ray Cooper III shut out former UFC fighter and Bellator Champion Rory MacDonald in Friday’s main event, defeating him via unanimous decision to advance to the grand finals of the 2021 welterweight season (30-27, 30-27 & 30-27).
All three rounds saw a similar control-heavy gameplan from Cooper III that proved effective on MacDonald.
Cooper III scored a takedown over MacDonald in the opening round after a long clinch position. He attempted an arm triangle choke late in the round, holding onto it until the round ran out of time.
Cooper III landed two takedowns in the second round – he was stood up after scoring one then immediately secured another.
The third round was much of the same for Cooper III, as he kept MacDonald on his back for a long time.
Cooper III now has the chance to become a back-to-back PFL Champion. He was successful in the last season as well, defeating David Michaud in the grand finals.
Cooper III will face Magomedkerimov in the finals. The bout is rematch from the 2018 finals, where Magomedkerimov earned a second-round submission.
MacDonald’s spot in the playoffs came solely from a first-round victory he scored against Curtis Millender earlier this year. His second regular season bout was a controversial decision loss to Gleison Tibau.
Bout 9: Magomed Magomedkerimov (28-5) vs. Sadibou Sy (9-5-2) (Welterweight)
2018 Champ Magomedkerimov Advances To Finals With Sweep on Scorecards
Magomed Magomedkerimov got one step closer to becoming a two-time PFL champion on Friday, defeating Sadibou Sy via unanimous decision to earn a spot in the welterweight grand finals (30-27, 30-27 & 30-27).
Magomedkerimov had a grinding performance against Sy, coming forward every round with clinches and takedowns.
Sy was able to have solid striking on the feet, but the control and damage that Magomedkerimov had earned guaranteed him the victory.
The fight puts Magomedkerimov into the PFL grand finals for the second time. The 31-year-old won the grand finals in PFL’s inaugural season back in 2018 and has remained undefeated since then. He did not make it into the 2019 finals not because he lost, but instead because illness forced him out of the bracket.
Sy entered the tournament as an alternate. He finished the regular season with four points due to a no contest and a decision win against Alexey Kunchenko. Like Magomedkerimov, Sy has been in the promotion since its first season.
Bout 8: Clay Collard (20-8) vs. Raush Manfio (13-3) (Lightweight)
Manfio Snaps Decision Win Over Collard After Striking Battle
Raush Manfio secured a PFL lightweight grand final spot on Friday with a unanimous decision win over Clay Collard (29-28, 29-28 & 29-28). The close three-round striking battle saw Collard with the higher output of strikes throughout, although Manfio had landed his own strong shots as well.
Manfio was able to land hard, impactful punches on Collard at points, including a hard overhand right in the final round.
The third frame was the best for Manfio, as he was able to push the pace against a tired Collard.
Controversy arrived following the result of the fight, as the broadcast team and PFL’s fighter rating system had both picked Collard as the winner.
Manfio and Collard both secured a spot in the playoffs with two decision wins in the regular season. They both had the same opponents as well, both defeating Joilton Lutterbach and Anthony Pettis.
Bout 7: Loik Radzhabov (14-3-1) vs. Alexander Martinez (8-1) (Lightweight)
Radzhabov Avenges Loss, Secures Grand Final Spot
Loik Radzhabov avenged a loss he took against Alexander Martinez earlier this year with a unanimous decision win against him on Friday. The unanimous decision victory made Radzhabov the first fighter to quality for the PFL grand finals for the lightweight division (30-27, 30-27 & 29-28).
Radzhabov was aggressive throughout the fight, constantly coming forward for clinch positions with Martinez. He scored numerous takedowns in the fight and was able to use some positions on the ground for both striking and submission attempts.
Martinez defeated Radzhabov at the first PFL event of the year, scoring a razor-thin split decision win. Martinez then lost his second bout to 2019 champ Natan Schulte, but was able to get into the playoffs with three points.
Radzhabov’s second fight, a 27-second stoppage win against Akhmet Aliev, secured him a playoff spot.
Bout 6: Gleison Tibau (35-15) vs. Micah Terrill (15-8) (Welterweight)
Tibau Chokes Out Terrill For First Stoppage Win In PFL
Gleison Tibau left judges out of the equation in the final prelim, putting Micah Terrill to sleep late in the first round with an arm triangle choke.
Tibau scored a takedown in the opening round, then immediately looked for a choke from side control. After Tibau switched to the other side of Terrill’s body, the choke put him to sleep and called an end to their fight.
Tibau won and lost a fight each in the regular season. His sole victory was a controversial split decision win over Rory MacDonald.
Tibau is best known for his 28-fight UFC run.
Terrill was joining PFL after a win earlier this year over Estevan Payan.
Bout 5: Olivier Aubin-Mercier (12-5) vs. Darrell Horcher (14-4) (Lightweight)
Aubin-Mercier Dominates Horcher For Second PFL Win
Olivier Aubin-Mercier continued his success in PFL on Friday, picking up a unanimous decision win against Darrell Horcher. (29-28, 30-26 & 29-27)
Aubin-Mercier came back from a somewhat close first round to eventually come out as the dominant winner.
Aubin-Mercier was able to do visible bruising to the legs of Horcher early in the first round.
Horcher seemingly scored a flash knockdown on Aubin-Mercier late in the round, dropping him with a left hand. Aubin-Mercier was able to return to his feet and even score a knockdown before the round concluded.
Aubin-Mercier was able to secure another takedown early in the second round. He unloaded with shots from the back of Horcher late in the round, nearly causing a finish in the final seconds.
The third round was dominant for Aubin-Mercier yet again, as he scored a takedown and kept Horcher on his back for most of the round.
Aubin-Mercier won his PFL debut earlier this year, defeating Marcin Held via unanimous decision in April. While he earned the win in the regular season, he wasn’t able to qualify for the playoffs.
Aubin-Mercier’s previous win snapped a three-fight losing streak.
Horcher, a fellow former UFC fighter, was getting the PFL call-up after scoring a 29-second win on a CFFC card.
Bout 4: Brett Cooper (27-15) vs. Tyler Hill (10-5) (Welterweight)
Veteran Cooper Collapses Hill With Punches
Veteran Brett Cooper overwhelmed Tyler Hill with strikes and takedowns for a first-round stoppage on the prelims.
Cooper pressed forward on Hill for the entire short-lasting fight, rushing in for takedowns and backing him up with hard punches that connected cleanly.
Punches from Cooper visibly wobbled Hill at one point, causing him to then consume many more shots before falling to the ground face-first.
Cooper, a pro of over a decade and a 12-fight Bellator vet, was making his first PFL appearance.
Cooper was also appearing for the first time since 2019. He had on three of his previous five bouts.
Hill has now lost his past two fights in MMA. His previous outing was in September, where Johnny Parsons stopped him within a round. He also recent lost a bare-knuckle boxing fight.
Bout 3: Magomed Umalatov (10-0) vs. Leandro Silva (25-9-1) (Welterweight)
Umalatov Goes To Scorecards For First Time, Defeats Veteran Silva
Undefeated prospect Magomed Umalatov scored a victory over veteran Leandro Silva on Saturday after a slow-paced three round battle on the feet (29-28, 29-28 & 29-28).
Silva kept Umalatov on his backfoot for most of the fight, keeping his back against the fence for minutes at a time. Both fighters would touch each other with jabs and leg kicks, although neither looked greatly hurt at any point.
Umalatov had a higher output of strikes in the fight, although Silva just trailed behind him with how many shots landed.
Umalatov won his PFL debut earlier this year, stopping Kyron Bowen in the second round with an overhand right. Not only was that fight his 10th win, but it was his 10th victory via stoppage. He went the distance for the first time in his career on Friday night.
Silva, a former UFC fighter and veteran of over 30 fights, was competing in PFL for the first time. He was coming back after defeating Antonio Todd on a boxing card just last month.
Bout 2: Kyron Bowen (9-6) vs. Michael Lombardo (11-2) (Welterweight)
Leg Kicks From Lombardo Cause Early Stoppage
Chopping leg kicks from Michael Lombardo took Kyron Bowen out in the first round of their bout on Friday.
Bowen got dropped twice by leg kicks in the same round. He stayed down after the second one, laying on his back after the knockdown. Lombardo closed out the fight with another leg kick to an already grounded Bowen, causing him to shout in pain and making the referee call the fight.
Both fighters were active with strikes on the feet before the stoppage.
Lombardo is now on a three-fight win streak. His previous fight was a win on UFC TV show “Dana White’s Contender Series.”
On the other hand, Bowen has lost three straight now. He lost his PFL debut earlier this year to undefeated prospect Magomed Umalatov.
Bout 1: Hopeton Stewart (5-1) vs. Elvin Espinoza (5-0) (Lightweight)
Espinoza Wins PFL Debut, Extends Undefeated Record With First-Round Choke
Elvin Espinoza scored a quick win to extend his undefeated record on Friday, putting Hopeton Stewart unconscious in the first round with a rear naked choke.
Espinoza scored a takedown in the opening minute and attempted a rear naked choke from the back of Stewart. After moving to numerous positions on the ground, Espinoza found his way on the back of Stewart yet again, keeping with the choke until the referee stopped the bout.
Espinoza now has six wins as a pro with five of them coming to an end in the first round. He needed just 19 seconds in his previous bout, defeating Luis Campa on an iKON card earlier this year.
Espinoza made his pitch for a spot on the PFL roster after his fight, also offering up to appear at the promotion’s show in October.
“This show is all about finishes. That’s what I’m about,” said Espinoza in his post-fight interview.
Stewart was making his first appearance in a year. He bounced back from his first loss in his previous showing, defeating winless Christopher Lavant last year.