The Professional Fighters League officially has its finalists for the welterweight and women’s lightweight tournaments. After some exciting bouts in Las Vegas, Nevada, Ray Cooper III secured his place in the finals with a tiebreaker rule win following a majority draw over Sadibou Sy and a one-punch knockout win against Chris Curtis. The underdog David Michaud earned his spot with a unanimous decision win over John Howard and then a majority decision victory over number-one seed Glaico Franca.
In the women’s lightweight tournament, two-time Olympic medalist Kayla Harrison tapped out Bobbi Jo Dalziel in the first round to advance to the finals, while Larissa Pacheco bested number-one seed Sara Kaufman via unanimous decision in another bloody battle.
This is how it went down in Vegas.
David Michaud def. Glaico Franca via majority decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Once again, Glaico Franca relied on his grappling prowess in order to find a way to win on the same night, and again his opponent was not having it, but this time around it did not go the Brazilian’s way. In a bloody affair, the ‘Bulldawg’ endured a cut in his scalp and some aggressive grappling from the ‘Brazilian Zombie’, but his effective striking ultimately earned him a majority decision win and a place in the tournament’s finals.
Ray Cooper III def. Chris Curtis via KO (punch) at 0:11 of round 2
Just like in his previous bout, Ray Cooper III preferred a cautious approach and relied on takedowns and ground control to outwork replacement Chris Curtis in the first round. In the second, however, the old ‘Bradda Boy’ emerged and, a with a one-hitter-quitter, Cooper III secured his place in the tournament’s finals just 11 seconds into the round with a powerful right hand to Curtis’ chin that knocked Chris out cold. Curtis had replaced the ill Magomed Magomedkerimov, who had beaten Curtis in the quarterfinals. Chris had announced his retirement after that fight, only to get the call-up to face Cooper, after which he retired again.
Kayla Harrison def. Bobbi Jo Dalziel via submission (armbar) at 3:32 of round 1
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Kayla Harrison played by ear and unsurprisingly made quick work of number-five seed, Bobbi Jo Dalziel, with takedowns and unrelenting grappling transitions until she opened the path to a tight armbar that awarded her a submission win still in the first round and a place in the tournament’s finals.
Larissa Pacheco def. Sara Kaufman via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Quick hands, some effective grappling and ground and pound dictated the action for the duration of all three rounds in number-four seed’s, Larissa Pacheco, win over first seed, Sarah Kaufman. With a superior reach, the Brazilian managed to keep Kaufman at bay with hard counters that turned Sarah’s nose into a bloody mess, en route to an unanimous decision victory, which advanced Pacheco to the tournament’s finals.
David Michaud def. John Howard via unanimous decision (20-18, 20-18, 20-18)
No feeling out time in the last quarterfinal. Number-four seed, John Howard, and fifth seed, David Michaud, dove into a brawl right off the bat, only interrupted by a smart level change from ‘Bulldawg’, which almost ended in a guillotine choke win for him in the end of the first round. More clinch work and dirty boxing from Michaud guaranteed him the second round and a unanimous decision victory, which advanced David to the semifinals.
Magomed Magomedkerimov def. Chris Curtis via unanimous decision (20-17, 20-18, 20-18)
As usual, it did not take long for second seed, Magomed Magomedkerimov, to take the action to the ground and secure a dominant position over number-seven seed, Chris Curtis, whom he outgrappled for the duration of the first round. In the second round, Curtis managed to keep the fight standing and tried to even the score against a tiring Magomedkerimov, but ultimately to no avail, dropping an unanimous decision. However, due to illness, Magomedkerimov could compete in the semifinals, so Curtis advanced to the next stage.
Glaico Franca def. Andre Fialho via majority decision (20-18, 20-18, 19-19)
In a wild and back-and-forth match, number-one seed, Glaico Franca, overcame some hard shots from eighth seed, Andre Fialho, throughout the whole fight, but managed to drag his opponent to the ground enough times to grind out a majority decision win after two rounds. ‘The Brazilian Zombie’ advanced to the semifinals, but carried over some heavy trauma to the head.
Ray Cooper III def. Sadibou Sy tiebreaker after majority draw.
The number-six seed, Ray Cooper III, wanted to make it a ground battle against third seed, Sadibou Sy, in order to nullify his opponent’s reach advantadge, seeking the clinch and takedowns throughout both rounds, while tiring out Sy in the process. Although he did not score another one of his highlight reel finishes, ‘Bradda Boy’ did enough to eek out a tiebreaker win after judges scored the bout a majority draw, which advanced the Hawaiian to the semifinals.
Nikolay Aleksakhin def. Jesse Ronson via TKO (punches) at 3:30 of round 1
Brendan Loughnane def. Matt Wagy via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)