The Professional Fighters League’s first round of play-offs (ever) are officially in the books. The fledgling promotion delivered some well-matched fights, a few of which were very entertaining.
Tonight (Friday, October 5th) in New Orleans, LA the featherweights and heavyweights who finished highest in the league standings fought in quarterfinal and semifinal bouts as they tried to book a place in a $1 million final.
In the featherweight division it was Lance Palmer and Steven Siler who made it through the play-offs to fight for the grand prize. Palmer won both his fights on the night with smothering, though rather dull, wrestling performances, but his semifinal win over Andre Harrison marked the first loss of Harrison’s career. Siler made his way to the final in controversial fashion, after advancing through the quarters on a first-round tie-breaker and winning the semi due to a disqualification for an illegal strike.
In the heavyweight tourney, Philipe Lins impressed with two stoppages to secure his place in the final. In the quarterfinals he tapped his friend and teammate Caio Alencar and in the semis he TKO’d Jared Rosholt. Lins will meet Josh Copeland, who is the story of the heavyweight tourney (perhaps the entire season). The Cuddly Bear upset top seed Francimar Barroso in the quarterfinal and then obliterated Alex Nicholson with an overhand right to claim his place in the final.
Check out the full results, and some highlights, below:
Heavyweight: Josh Copeland def. Alex Nicholson via KO (punch), Round 1 (1:27).
Josh Copeland, who was the eighth seed, made it to the semifinal after frustrating and upsetting number-one seed Francimar Barroso in the quarterfinals. Alex Nicholson, the fifth seed, got to the semis after TKO’ing Jack May in around two minutes. Copeland, who is close friends with May, said he wanted to avenge his buddy. And he did just that; in devastating fashion.
Copeland came out swinging in the first, winging right hands at Nicholson. He caught Nicholson a few times, who flashed a high kick in return. Copeland was fearless coming forwards though and he caught Nicholson with another big overhand before bull-rushing his opponent into the cage.
Nicholson used knees on the inside to create separation and then stunned — and cut — Copeland with a spinning back-fist. When Nicholson saw blood he ran in for the kill. Copeland evaded Nicholson’s offense and then threw another huge overhand that landed right on Nicholson’s jaw. Nicholson dropped immediately and was left stretched out on the mat, unconscious.
Featherweight: Steven Siler def. Alexandre Almeida via DQ (illegal upkick), Round 2 (0:52).
The 5th seed Alexandre Almeida controlled Jumabieke Tuerxun in the quarterfinals to set-up a rematch with the number-one seed Steven Siler. Siler came through his quarterfinal match thanks to the tie-breaker rule. He won the first round against Nazareno Malegarie and that gave him the victory after the judges’ scored the entire two-round fight as a majority draw.
Siler and Almeida met in the group stages. Siler won that match, controversially, by guillotine choke. Almeida claimed that he neither tapped nor went unconscious during that match and that the ref had mistakenly called off the contest.
Almeida looked to establish himself as the aggressor in the opening moments of tonight’s fight, flurrying against Siler. But Siler caught Almeida coming in, eliciting a takedown attempt from the Brazilian. When both men made it back to their feet, they traded punches in the center of the cage. Almeida got the best of that exchange, but an ensuing scramble put him on his back with Siler in his guard. A bloody Almeida was able to get back up, though. The round ended with some even striking and a late takedown for Almeida.
In the second round, Siler and Almeida traded a few shots before a bad takedown attempt left Almeida on his back. Siler crouched down to meet Almerida and ate a huge upkick. The fight was paused, since Siler was definitely grounded when the kick landed. Siler was very slow to make it back up and eventually it was ruled that he could not continue. Almeida was DQ’d for the upkick, handing Siler a final berth.
Heavyweight: Philipe Lins def. Jared Rosholt by TKO, Round 2 (0:45).
Jared Rosholt, the seventh seed, got to the semis by out-wrestling Kevin Tiller for 10 minutes. Philipe Lins, the third seed, progressed to the semis after tapping out his friend and training partner Caio Alencar in less than a minute.
In the first round Rosholt got a hold of Lins early and bundled him to the ground. On the canvas, the much larger Rosholt put his weight on Lins and targeted the Brazilian’s legs with knees. At one point Lins tried to lock-in a triangle choke, but he was never close to finishing the fight or getting out from under Rosholt.
In the second round Lins knew he needed to do something different. So he came out swinging. He clubbed Rosholt with a two-punch combo. Rosholt got a little wild as a result, which opened up the former UFC fighter to more shots from Lins. Eventually an overhand right caught Rosholt on the button, sending him down to the mat. Lins followed up with hammerfists to force the stoppage.
Punching a first class ticket to the Championship! Heavyweight Semifinal: #3 Philipe Lins defeats #7 Jared Rosholt by TKO in Round 2. Lins advances to the PFL 2018 Championship on New Year’s Eve for a shot at $1 Million! #PFLPlayoffs #PFL8 #MMA pic.twitter.com/bgsBsEhcDw
— #PFLmma (@ProFightLeague) October 6, 2018
Featherweight: Lance Palmer def. Andre Harrison via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28).
The first semifinal of the night was a rematch between the second seed Lance Palmer and third seed Andre Harrison, who fought for the WSOF lightweight title last year ago. Harrison won that night, but it was Palmer who came out victorious this time, handing Harrison the first loss of his 21-fight career.
This was a dull fight with very little action, especially in the first (where the only strike that landed was a low blow on Palmer). The second round wasn’t much better, but it saw Palmer land a great double-leg takedown which lead to nearly four minutes of back control. Palmer alternated between rear naked choke and neck crank attempts, but Harrison was wise to all of it. The last minute of that round saw a virtual ceasefire between both fighters, with Palmer hanging out on Harrison’s back as he stood against the cage.
In the third, Palmer took Harrison down again. And Harrison just could not get back up. Palmer rode him for most the round taking back control, side control, and full mount. Palmer attempted a few submissions and landed very little ground and pound, but it was enough to get the win and a shot at a million dollars.