The Professional Fighters League (PFL) kicked off the 2021 PFL Playoffs tonight with four thrilling win-or-go-home matchups across the welterweight and lightweight divisions. In the night’s main event, Ray Cooper III defeated Rory MacDonald by unanimous decision to clinch a PFL World Championship berth.
Cooper will face Magomed Magomedkerimov in the welterweight division final on October 27 in a rematch from Season 1, with a world championship and $1 million at stake. Meanwhile, Magomedkerimov, the 2018 PFL Champion, put on a dominant three-round performance against Sadibou Sy with aggressive striking and lightning-quick takedowns earning a unanimous decision and booking a spot in the welterweight championship match.
Loik Radzhabov and Raush Manfio came out on top in their respective lightweight fights and have a PFL World Championship date. Radzhabov, the 2019 PFL Runner-Up, defeated first time playoff contender Alexander Martinez by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) and avenged his Regular Season loss to the Paraguayan at PFL 1 in April. At the PFL World Championships in October, Radzhabov will attempt to become the first fighter from Tajikistan to win a title in a major MMA promotion. Manfio went the distance with Clay Collard and earned a close decision victory, pushing his win streak to three and the Brazilian remains undefeated in the PFL.
Semifinalists from the lightweight division kicked off the evening’s playoff matchups, with 2019 PFL Runner-Up Loik Radzhabov defeating first time playoff contender Alexander Martinez by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) and avenging his Regular Season loss to the Paraguayan at PFL 1 in April. At the PFL World Championships in October, Radzhabov will attempt to become the first fighter from Tajikistan to win a title in a major MMA promotion.
In the final lightweight semi-final bout, Clay Collard and Raush Manfio went to the three round distance, giving no quarter in toe-to-toe action. In the end, Manfio earned the razor thin unanimous decision victory, placing him in the PFL Lightweight Championship match. The victory moves Manfio’s win streak to three straight fights, as he remains unbeaten in the PFL.
“Tonight PFL 7 kicked off the first of three action-packed playoff events being held at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida,” said Peter Murray, PFL CEO. “MMA fans witnessed the unmatched grit and determination of the PFL fighters looking to secure a PFL Championship opportunity. I look forward to continued intensity and world class action as the PFL Playoffs continue on August 19.”
“The excitement of a playoff atmosphere cannot be beat,” said Ray Sefo, President of Fighter Operations of PFL. “With everything at stake the PFL athletes delivered a great night of competition and now four fighters are closer to the PFL Championship and $1 million.”
In earlier action on the undercard, Gleison Tibau wasted no time defeating Micah Terrill by first round submission (arm triangle 2:17). The win gave Tibau his 37th win of career, and 15th by way of submission.
Meanwhile, in lightweight action, Olivier Aubin-Mercier took Darrell Horcher to the distance, and was victorious by unanimous decision. The result moved Aubin-Mercier’s win streak to two, and bumped his MMA record to 13-5.
In a welterweight showdown, Brett Cooper made quick work of Tyler Hill, earning a first round knockout victory, the 18th KO of his career.
Leading off the ESPN+ card, Elvin Espinosa defeated Hopeton Stewart via first round technical submission locking in a rear naked choke. Continued action saw Michael Lombardo defeat Kyron Bowen by 1st round TKO, moving his win streak to three. In a hard fought bout, Magomed Umalatov defeated Leandro Silva by unanimous decision, extending his undefeated MMA record to 11-0.
The PFL returns to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on Thursday, August 19 with the final four fighters across women’s lightweight and heavyweight divisions competing for a spot in the world championship.
COMPLETE RESULTS: ESPN Card
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