The PFL’s 2021 welterweight final will feature a battle of former champions, as Ray Cooper III and Magomed Magomedkerimov both punched their tickets to the 170-pound season final with victories in Hollywood, Florida on Friday night.
The welterweight playoff bracket saw Cooper claim a unanimous decision victory over former Bellator welterweight champion Rory MacDonald in the night’s main event.
Cooper, the PFL’s 2019 welterweight champion, won all three rounds on all three judges’ scorecards to seal his place in the final, where he’ll face 2018 champ Magomedkerimov, who scored an equally impressive unanimous decision win over Sadibou Sy.
It means the PFL’s last two welterweight champions will face off in the 2021 finale, with Magomedkerimov looking to repeat his 2018 win over Cooper, while the Hawaiian will bid to exact revenge and capture his second PFL strap, plus the $1 million prize for the season champion.
The lightweight final is also set, but it didn’t come without controversy as Brazilian contender Raush Manfio and Loik Radzhabov booked their places in the 155-pound finale.
Radzhabov, who lost in the 2019 lightweight final, claimed a unanimous decision victory over Paraguay’s Alexander Martinez, who had defeated him on the opening night of the PFL’s regular season in April.
But there was controversy in the other lightweight semi-final, as Manfio earned the nod from the judges after a closely-contested battle with Clay Collard.
While the commentary team – and many on social media – saw the fight in Collard’s favour, the three judges disagreed, as the Brazilian earned a unanimous decision win to stun Collard and earn a spot in the lightweight final.
Seen quite a bit of criticism of the judging for this fight, as Clay Collard found himself on the wrong end of a controversial – and very expensive – judges' decision at #PFLPlayoffs https://t.co/seRgeeQ6EG
— Simon Head (@simonhead) August 14, 2021
“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.”
The PFL Finals will take place on October 27.
PFL Playoff Results
- Ray Cooper III def. Rory MacDonald via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Magomed Magomedkerimov def. Sadibou Sy via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Raush Manfio def. Clay Collard via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Loik Radzhabov def. Alexander Martinez via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)