PFL 4 was everything the Professional Fighters League expected when it established its playoff format. Six of eight fights on Thursday ended before the final horn, with five finals in the first round that dramatically altered the makeup of the playoff supports in the women's light and welterweight divisions.
Pre-season favorites Magomed Magomedkerimov and Kayla Harrison settled for No. 2 seeds in their respective divisions, and the playoff supports are full of interesting matches.
This is how the second night of women's welterweight and lightweight fights took place in Atlantic City, New Jersey:
Magomed Magomedkerimov is still seen as the toughest competitor with 170 pounds in the PFL welterweight division and a strong contender to defend his championship (and the $ 1 million prize that comes with it). Magomedkerimov used a variety of kicks to control the distance against Chris Curtis, a boxer who stunned the field with a victory over Bellator veteran Andre Fialho in PFL 1. Magomedkerimov beat his opponent everywhere on the way to a decision victory unanimous.
On his feet, he landed clean punches and harmful kicks. On the ground, he controlled the action, too. However, at the end of the third round, Magomedkerimov seemed to tire after passing the entire second round in search of a stranglehold from behind. Curtis felt it and went for a guillotine, but Magomedkerimov turned around and survived the sequence. In general, Magomedkerimov connected 79 strikes at 22 Curtis. But the two will fight each other in a rematch in the quarterfinals. It is difficult to imagine another result, since the scores were 30-27, 30-27 and 30-26.
@Judo_Kayla Steamrolls Frier in the first.
– ESPN MMA (@espnmma) July 12, 2019
Kayla Harrison (9 points) def. Morgan Frier (0 points) through the first round presentation (key lock) (light women's)
After Kayla Harrison won a decision over Larissa Pacheco in PFL 1, she cried because she was disappointed with her performance. The PFL built a 155-pound women's division around Harrison, the two-time Olympic gold medalist in judo, and the skilled wrestler wanted to achieve a better performance. She preached "perfection".
She clearly had a different mindset in her second bout, against Morgan Frier on Thursday. Harrison was violent. She knocked down Frier and hit her with 28 hits to the ground. And then, when he saw the slightest opening, he went for a lock and got a submission victory at the end of the first round. More than anything, Harrison showed that once he has you on the ground, you will not get up.
The victory establishes a semifinal showdown against Muay Thai specialist Genah Fabian and a possible title fight against UFC veteran Sarah Kaufman, who did not fight on Thursday but won three points and favorite number 1 after the scheduled opponent, Roberta. Samad, he lost weight.
"Sarah and I will meet in the final," Harrison said after the fight. "It will be the dream of the PFL, and I will be a millionaire!" Kaufman then entered the cage and challenged that idea: "That million dollars will be mine," Kaufman said.
Joao Zeferino (3 points) def. Bojan Velickovic (0 points) by unanimous decision. (welterweight)
This was heralded as a "elimination" bout, but after David Michaud and John Howard (who were goalless before PFL 4) got big wins by halting, both Joao Zeferino and Bojan Velickovic were eliminated. Zeferino won a unanimous decision in a sloppy fight against Velickovic, who was competitive throughout the match.
Zeferino qualified for the playoffs last year, but was injured before the quarterfinals. He was injured when he lost PFL 1 and qualified for PFL 4 only due to the injury of another fighter. He used his gripping skills to control Velickovic, but could not get the stop he needed by the final horn to guarantee a place in the playoffs. It was the first decision victory in PFL 4, six fights in the night.
– ESPN MMA (@espnmma) July 12, 2019
John Howard (6 points) def. Ray Cooper III (5 points) through first round TKO (punches) (welterweight)
Oh my! What are you doing right now, PFL 4? Until this point of the night, the PFL 4 is legitimately one of the best MMA cards of 2019. A desperate John Howard, 0-1 in the PFL this season, entered on Thursday night with a fight against Ray Cooper III, who lost in the past year. fight for the welterweight title against Magomed Magomedkerimov after reciting four consecutive knockouts. Howard is a veteran with some experience in the UFC that added some weight to the field. However, few chose him to advance against these young monsters in the welterweight division.
But Howard had other plans.
With Cooper coming early in the fight on Thursday, Howard knocked him down with a powerful left hook. The crowd was surprised. Howard threw some shots while Cooper tried to recover on the ground, but after last year's welterweight runner up, Howard hit his wobbling opponent with another huge left hook before finishing with a few more shots on the left. ground. It was the most impressive result of the season in the PFL. Howard advances to the playoffs now, and could see Cooper again when he arrives there, depending on how the rest of the night unfolds.
Of all accounts, Sadibou Sy against Glaico Franca appeared to be a likely candidate to spread the excitement in PFL 4, which began with three consecutive first-round stoppages. Sy, who beat David Michaud in PFL 1 after throwing a liver kick at the start of the fight, and Franca, who also achieved a first round in PFL 1, entered the fight tied in the welterweight standings with Magomed Magomedkerimov, the reigning Welterweight Champion.
Ultimately, Sy threw heavy kicks ahead of time, but could not stop Franca, who forced his opponent to fight from his back in the second and third rounds before his ground and pound stopped in the final moments of the game. Fight. It was not the exciting fight that many anticipated, but it allowed Franca to show her fighting skills against an elite contender. "We are very happy with that result," said Franca later.
While both fighters had already blocked the playoff positions, Franca prepared to fill one of the first places in support.
The PFL 4 card started with two first-round stops in the women's lightweight division. And then it got even better. The fight between David Michaud and Handesson Ferreira presented a kick in the groin, a blow to the eye and wild exchanges. All that happened before Michaud connected a combo from left to right that surprised Ferreira, who lost to Ray Cooper III in the semifinals of the PFL welterweight tournament last year.
While Ferreira controlled the action throughout the round, Michaud's camp protested after his fighter was kicked in the groin with a kick, minutes after being hit in the eye. But Michaud, who needed an early stop to enter the playoffs, pushed the pace after absorbing those fouls. Once he hurt Ferreira with the combo, Michaud finished him in the crucifix position, where he landed several blows before the referee stopped the fight. "Everything was about reaching the playoffs," said Michaud after the victory, which followed his 17-second loss to No. 1 seed Sadibou Sy through a liver kick in PFL 1. Now Ferreira must wait to see if he can fall in the playoffs. With three points.
Fights like these are the reasons why the PFL put together a collection of some of the most fascinating MMA rules and structures. The league wanted its fighters to reach this stage, with a place in the playoffs and another step towards $ 1 million on the line: fight with urgency and passion. That's what Larissa Pacheco, who is just 24 years old, did when she sealed a first-round final through a bar to Bobbi Jo Dalziel, who suffered her first professional loss of MMA.
Dalziel had a significant height and reach advantage, and kickboxer elite kicks controlled the action in his PFL 1 win over Genah Fabian. But Pacheco did not give Dalziel the opportunity to use those tools, because he secured an early demolition and never allowed Dalziel to stand up. Pacheco established the full mounting position after softening Dalziel with early punches, and then headed to the arm bar. At 2 minutes, 31 seconds of the first round, that resulted in six points and a place in the playoffs for Pacheco, who gave trouble to Kayla Harrison in her PFL 1 fight after taking the fight at short notice. Pacheco sleeps in this division.
Genah Fabian came into his fight against Moriel Charneski knowing he needed a stoppage in the first round (before the 2:21 mark) to secure a spot in the women's lightweight playoffs. He fought with a sense of urgency and, finally, knocked Charneski down with a heavy, crunchy left hand. Fabian followed Charneski and ended the fight with a ground and pound attack that forced a referee to a stoppage at 1:42 in the first round.
Fabian is a former Muay Thai world champion, but she is still new to the MMA scene. She showed a lot of heart, pushing through a broken nose against Bobbi Jo Dalziel in the PFL 1 in a decision defeat. Against Charneski, he showed serenity and immediately dictated the action in the fight by avoiding a knockdown of Charneski. The strong left blow he used to secure victory is a weapon he could use to surprise the world now that he's in the playoffs. It is clear to the eyes that Fabian is improving rapidly.