The Professional Fighters League will ring in the New Year with a seven-bout card that will crown six new world champions and close out the historic first season. All 14 fighters hit their mark on the scale and the event was giving the green light by the New York State Athletic Commission. The six winners in the title fights will take home the PFL title and a $1 million championship check.
Top-seeded juggernaut Ray Cooper III looked to continue his dominance when he faced off with Magomed Magomedkerimov for the welterweight title. Both fighters went 4-0 over the regular season and playoffs with the Hawaiian slugger needing just over eight minutes to finish all four of his opponents. His Russian counterpart took two bouts by stoppage and two by decision. The fight was finished in the second round when Magomedkerimov locked up a guillotine choke submission.
Middleweights Abus Magomedov and Louis Taylor kicked off the event in what was to be a battle of top seeds. The middleweight winner would be the first PFL Champion minted. It only took 33 seconds for Taylor to knock Magomedov out cold and become the first fight tonight to win $1 million.
— #PFLmma (@ProFightLeague) January 1, 2019
The featherweight title bout was a rematch from November 2017 when Lance Palmer took a decision over Steven Siler at PFL: Fight Night. Siler was looking for revenge and the first major title of his career while Palmer was looking to cement himself as one of the best featherweights in the world. This fight would go all five rounds with Palmer landing seven takedowns and more than 130 significant strikes. Palmer wins the fight unanimously and takes home $1 million for his efforts.
Philipe Lins and Josh Copeland dueled for the heavyweight title after taking dissimilar paths to the finals. Lins went undefeated to earn his place while Copeland, the number eight-seed, was on the bubble and just snuck into the playoffs. He then fought twice in the playoffs to secure his spot opposite Lins. What a war this was. Copeland was cut and hurt early, but he would not be deterred. Nice heavyweight brawl. Doctors come in to check on the competitors in the fourth but then as soon as the action is resumed it stopped by TKO in favor of Lins.
Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert Vinny Magalhaes and PFL broadcaster/fighter Sean O’Connell duked it out for the light heavyweight belt in an old-fashioned style vs. style matchup. Magalhaes had a clear advantage if the fight hit the mat while O’Connell’s striking power tips the scales in his favor while standing. O’Connell, on the verge of retirement, stood and traded with the jiu jitsu expert. O’Connell controlled the fight on the feet, damaging Magalhaes and forcing him to quit between rounds three and four due to the damage.
In a special feature fight Kayla Harrison met Moriel Charneski in a 155-pound matchup. The bout was a prelude to the introduction of the women’s lightweight division for the 2019 PFL Season. Harrison was looking to keep her record perfect and continue to build her MMA career after transitioning from Judo… and she does with a first round TKO.
Brazilian Natan Schulte and his opponent Rashid Magomedov from Dagestan, Russia have been training partners in the past at American Top Team in Florida. Tonight they squared off with a world title and $1 million at stake in the PFL lightweight division. It was a hard fought back and forth brawl with Schulte controlling clinch and takedowns and Magomedov landing more significant strikes. Schulte wins unanimously.
The 2018 PFL Championship will be held at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City and will be broadcast on NBCSN beginning at 7 p.m. local time. Tickets are still available and can be purchased at TicketMaster.com or the Madison Square Garden box office.
PFL Championship Results:
Welterweight World Title:
Magomed Magomedkerimov defeated Ray Cooper III via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 2, 2:18
Heavyweight World Title:
Philipe Lins defeated Josh Copeland via TKO – Round 4, 0:30
Light Heavyweight World Title:
Sean O’Connell defeated Vinny Magalhaes via TKO – Round 3, 5:00
Lightweight Special Feature Fight:
Kayla Harrison defeated Moriel Charneski via TKO – Round 1, 3:39
Lightweight World Title Fight:
Natan Schulte defeated Rashid Magomedov via unanimous decision (48-46, 48-46, 48-46)
Featherweight World Title Fight:
Lance Palmer defeated Steven Siler via unanimous decision (50-43, 50-45, 49-46)
Middleweight World Title Fight:
Louis Taylor defeated Abus Magomedov via knockout – Round 1, 0:33
Photo gallery by MyMMANews photographer Tim Stype
Click to enlarge