Ray Cooper III was one of the few bright spots for the Professional Fighters League during a lengthy PFL 10 card on Saturday in Washington, D.C.
Cooper III (17-5) steamrolled everybody in his path St. Elizabeths East Entertainment and Sports Arena, as the powerhouse Hawaiian vanquished two men he had fought previously. In the welterweight quarterfinals, he took on former Strikeforce, Shooto and EliteXC champion Jake Shields (33-11-1) -- a man he put away with second-round punches at PFL 3 in July. Cooper III was even more impressive in the rematch.
Shields tried to use his guile and grappling prowess to stem the tide of violence coming his way, but they were of no use. The Californian was rocked by a right to the head during a scramble to his feet, and Cooper III kept punching until referee Kevin Mulhall intervened 3:10 into the first round.
Cooper III was like a man possessed in his semifinal match with Brazil’s Handesson Ferreira (13-2-1), who forced Rick Story (21-10) to verbally submit to an arm injury in his quarters. The Hawaiian was relentless from the start, swinging wildly in pursuit of another quick knockout. Ferreira hung tough with his counterpart but elected blows with him; his jaw did not hold up. With Ferreria against the cage trying to stand after a wild scramble, Cooper III connected with a left hook to the head and dropped him. From there, “Bradda Boy” unloaded a steady diet of left hands until referee Mario Yamasaki had no choice but step in, ending the drubbing at the 2:28 mark.
Magomed Magomedkerimov -- who will face Cooper III in the welterweight final on New Year’s Eve in New York -- advanced by dispatching Bojan Velickovic with a series of punches in the second round of their semifinal. Magomedkerimov (22-5) rocked “Serbian Steel” with a right hook to the face midway through Round 2. The Dagestani chased Velickovic (16-8-2) across the cage and continued punching, eventually felling him with a barrage of fists to the head. The end came 3:13 into the second round. Magomedkerimov edged Ukrains’s Pavel Kusch (23-7) via unanimous decision, while Velickovic lost to Abubakar Nurmagomedov (16-2) via unanimous draw in the quarters. Nurmagomedov was awarded the victory by virtue of his winning the first round, but Velickovic nevertheless moved on when the Dagestani was forced to withdraw with an injury.
The middleweight final was also set. Germany’s Abusupiyan Magomedov dominated Sadibou Sy to a unanimous decision in their semifinal. Magomedov (22-3-1) avoided all of Sy’s lethal strikes on the feet and nearly submitted the lanky Swede numerous times in the second and third rounds. “Abus” scored easy takedowns and threatened with a pair of arm-triangle chokes and a rear-naked choke. Sy (7-4-1) managed to fend off the advances and stay in the fight, but he was never able to find the offensive rhythm he needed to turn the tables. In the end, the judges favored Magomedov via tallies of 30-27 (twice) and 29-28.
Magomedov fought Gasan Umalatov (18-5-3) to a majority draw in the middleweight quartefinals, but advanced by virtue of his winning the first round. Sy got past Brazil’s Bruno Santos (18-2-1) via majority draw in the quarters, moving on after being credited with winning Round 1.
Magomedov in the Dec. 31 final will face Chicago’s Louis Taylor -- a man who had to endure several minutes of controversy before he was crowned victor against John Howard in the semifinals. Taylor (17-4-1) dominated a sluggish “Doomsday” for two rounds, but an accidental illegal knee to Howard’s face with two ticks remaining in the second round ended the fight. The D.C. commission spent nearly 10 minutes deliberating the infraction and eventually decided to take a point from Taylor. The result was a unanimous technical draw, but since Taylor won the first round, he was granted entry to the final of the middleweight tournament.
Taylor unanimously edged Rex Harris (11-5) in the quarterfinals, winning the decision 20-18 across the board. Howard (27-14-1) had the exact same result against Eddie Gordon (8-7) in his side of the bracket.