Fight Facts: PFL 2021 Championship

By Jay Pettry Oct 31, 2021

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Fight Facts is a breakdown of all of the interesting information and cage curiosities on every card, with some puns, references and portmanteaus to keep things fun. These deep stat dives delve into the numbers, providing historical context and telling the stories behind those numbers.

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Sooner than some expected, the Professional Fighters League ended before Halloween with its championship card putting six belts on the line in one night. With 10 fights happening in the span of seven and a half hours, the problematic pace could not be ignored. The 2021 PFL Championship, buoyed by one of the biggest betting favorites in league history, featured a slugger involved in all three of his tourney finals, a fighter that keeps falling short of the finish line and a heavyweight slobberknocker that went to the bitter end.

The Pace was Maddening: The same as in seasons past, no more than three of the five-round bouts went to decision on the championship event. Additionally, each of the three PFL Championship events has seen exactly one first-round and one second-round finish take place in those six title-fight extravaganzas.

See You in 2022: In both the 2019 and 2021 championships, Kayla Harrison served in the main event, while Ray Cooper III took the co-main event slot. In both instances, Harrison won the lightweight strap while a Cooper knockout earned him welterweight gold.

15 Minutes Plus 10 More is Too Many: Of the six participants in bouts that went five full rounds, the only two who had never fought beyond the third round faced one another, when Raush Manfio won a decision over Loik Radzhabov.

With Ease: Running through Taylor Guardado to tap her with an armbar in the second round, Harrison is now a perfect 12-0 as a pro. Only one woman has gone the distance with her: Larissa Pacheco, who did so twice in 2019.

No Longer the Uncrowned Queen: Harrison stormed through the competition, recording four finishes in four victories in 2021 to claim her second $1 million check. She is the only tournament winner this year to rattle off four stoppage wins on her way to gold.

Is There No One Else? Winner in all 11 of her PFL appearances, Harrison is tied for the company record for the longest win streak along with Magomed Magomedkerimov, Marlon Moraes and Lance Palmer, and hers is the only active streak among the four.

Cooper Will Win That Race: Harrison’s nine finishes as a PFL fighter put her in first place with the most stoppage wins in organizational history, in a three-way tie between her, Justin Gaethje and Ray Cooper III.

Kayla Gracie: The submission was Harrison’s fifth on the roster, tying Lance Palmer and Vinny Magalhaes for the most in World Series of Fighting-PFL history.

Welcome to Free Agency: The two-time Olympic gold medalist holds basically every record for a female fighter in the history of the promotion. This includes most wins (11), most stoppages (nine), most fights (11), most knockouts (four), most submissions (five) and many more accomplishments.

Easiest Money: Clocking in as a monumental -4000 favorite against Guardado, it is not the first or even the second time that Harrison has come into a fight with betting odds this steep. Ahead of her 2019 matchups with Morgan Frier and Bobby Jo Dalziel, she closed -4000 and -5000, respectively.

Keeping Up with the Harrisons: Of the four fights in company history with a favorite at -4000 or above, Harrison has been involved in three, winning all three by submission. Andre Harrison is the only other one to do so, at -4500 before taking on Jumabieke Tuerxun in 2018.

Double Your Fun: Both Harrison and Cooper became two-time tournament champs with their finish wins on this card. They are now the third and fourth fighters to repeat with million-dollar victories, joining Palmer and Natan Schulte.

Steven Spielberg Presents: The Finalist: Cooper is the lone fighter in PFL history to participate in all three of its tournament finales, reaching the final bout at his welterweight division in 2018, 2019 and now 2021. He has won the last two, while in the first, he fell short to Magomedkerimov.

Not Bad, Bradda: Earning his 12th PFL victory by avenging his loss to Magomedkerimov, “Bradda Boy” finds himself with the second-most wins of any fighter to compete on its roster. Palmer’s 15 stand alone in the top spot.

He Wants That Record: Cooper is closing in on the all-time record for the most knockouts in WSOF-PFL history, held by Gaethje (nine). Cooper recorded his seventh PFL knockout by putting Magomedkerimov out in the third round.

Wrong Hand-Picked Opponent: By split decision, Abigail Montes handed former boxing champ Claressa Shields her first loss in MMA. It is the first time Shields suffered a defeat in any combat sport since falling short to Savannah Marshall in an amateur boxing contest in 2012.

The Dregs of a Heavyweight Fight: Needing five exhausting rounds for Bruno Henrique Cappelozza to overcome Ante Delija, the two men were involved in just the second heavyweight in company history to reach the fifth round. The first came when Blagoy Ivanov and Josh Copeland fought for the heavyweight strap in 2016.

Slow-Motion Killer: Like Harrison, Movlid Khaybulaev won all four of his appearances in 2021 to take home the $1 million check at featherweight. Including a five-round verdict over Chris Wade, and unlike Harrison, “Killer” won all four by decision.

Shoe Face Can Buy a Lot of Shoes Now: At 3:49 of the opening frame, Antonio Carlos Jr. scored a million-dollar prize by submission Marthin Hamlet with a rear-naked choke. His submission is the fastest of any tournament final, and the sixth-quickest in WSOF-PFL championship history.

Manfio and Schulte are Teammates: Dropping a decision to Manfio for the lightweight strap, Radzhabov fell short for the second time for a tournament championship. He is the first fighter in PFL tourney history to lose in multiple finals, having previously lost to Schulte in 2019.

To Be Young Again…: To earn his first PFL win albeit in a non-tourney bout, Jordan Young scorched Omari Akhmedov in the third round with strikes. The knockout was the first in the career of the 26-year-old, who at the time celebrated nine of his 11 wins by tapout.

He’s a Magic Man: In his PFL debut, Don Madge tapped Nathan Williams with a rear-naked choke on the card opener. “Magic Man” advanced his finish rate to 90% with the submission.

Never Say Never Again: Coming into the PFL 2021 Championship, Guardado had never been finished (four fights), Magomedkerimov had never been knocked out (33 fights) and Delija had never lost on the scorecards (23 fights).

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