Fight Facts: PFL 5: 2021 Regular Season

By Jay Pettry Jun 21, 2021

Sign up for ESPN+ right here, and you can then stream the PFL on ESPN+ live on your computer, phone, tablet or streaming device via the ESPN app.

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.

* * *


The Professional Fighters League secured its playoff seeds at welterweight and light heavyweight on Thursday night at PFL 5: 2021 Regular Season. Despite several snafus and strange results, everything went nearly according to plan when the dust settled. This event featured the second Ezekiel choke seen inside this league’s cage, a surprisingly common draw for the PFL and an immediate contender for “Robbery of the Year” in the headliner.

Until They Meet Again: Both Ray Cooper III and Magomed Magomedkerimov picked up wins at this event, putting them both in the 10-win club with the promotion. That group now consists of seven members, including the currently rostered Natan Schulte (10) and Lance Palmer (15).

Repeat Business: Cooper and Vinny Magalhaes are also tied for the third-most appearances in World Series of Fighting-PFL history by competing at PFL 5. Only Schulte (13) and Palmer (19) have fought more times under the banners.

Should Have Gone by Herculano: By controversial means, Gleison Tibau snagged a split verdict on the scorecards over Rory MacDonald. In a career that dates back to late 1999, the Brazilian born as Janigleison Herculano Alves has earned exactly half of his wins by decision.

Yes, Reason to Be Upset: The split decision nod for the +650 Tibau served as a monumental upset, as he overcame the -1000 favorite MacDonald to record the fourth-highest betting upset in company history.

Cardio Cooper: Needing three full rounds to beat Nikolay Aleksakhin, the win for Cooper marked the first time he had ever won a fight that went past the 9:29 mark.

Come on Bradda: Cooper missed weight by less than a pound before facing Aleksakhin, and the Hawaiian was deducted one playoff point for this infraction. Cooper still reached the playoffs by submitting Jason Ponet in April, as he earned no points for defeating Aleksakhin.

Follow the Mohawk Line: The draw between Emiliano Sordi and Dan Spohn marked the first time a three-round bout had been ruled even since Andre Harrison vs. Movlid Khaybulaev in 2019. It is now the fourth three-round draw in company history.

That Last Bit Though: Through organizational history, and partially due to two seasons utilizing two-round matches, about 2.69 percent of all PFL fights have been scored draws. This is leaps and bounds higher than other promotions like the Ultimate Fighting Championship (.75 percent), Bellator MMA (.69 percent) or One Championship (zero percent, as the league prohibits draws even though individual judges can score fights as draws).

A Sordi Affair: Sordi began his then-30-fight career by only going the distance one time from 2009 to 2019, against Wilians Santos at a Jungle Fight event in 2011. Both of his matches in the 2021 season have seen “He-Man” leave his fight in the hands of the judges.

No Grappling Here: An errant knee from Antonio Carlos Jr. ended his match with Magalhaes just past the midpoint of the first round, resulting in a no contest for both men. It is just the third time in company history where a fight was deemed a no contest inside the cage, joining Matt Baker’s head clash with Ali Mokdad in 2015 and Sadibou Sy’s eye poke of Aleksakhin in April.

Jumpin Joao: The arm-triangle choke for Joao Zeferino over Ponet put the Brazilian in the top seed for the welterweight playoffs, with a combined eight points this season. He is the only fighter in the division to win twice while making weight on both occasions.

Congratulations, You’re Pre-Approved: Since PFL implemented playoffs, Zeferino has competed five times and won all five, including two this year. Should he be able to compete in August, “The Brazilian Samurai” will finally fight in his first playoffs with the promotion.

Giant Achilles Heel: Ponet suffered his 12th submission defeat as a pro, accounting for 86 percent of his career defeats. He has more losses by submission than six of the other fighters on the card hold in total wins.

Magomed Business: Punching his ticket to the playoffs with his quick win, Magomedkerimov recorded just the second Ezekiel choke in company history by tapping Curtis Millender in the opening frame. The first came from Denis Goltsov over Kelvin Tiller at PFL 6: 2019 Regular Season.

Not a Kerimov in the World: Since appearing at WSOF 33 in 2016, Magomedkerimov has yet to lose. His 10-0 record with the company is the best unbeaten record among all fighters currently under the PFL banner.

All Hail the Walkout King: Even though he won a decision over Jordan Young, Tom Lawlor did not qualify for the playoffs. Before he knew this, “Filthy” left his gloves in the center of the cage to signal his retirement. As a pro, the fan-favorite defeated the likes of Patrick Cote, Gian Villante and C.B. Dollaway over the years, competing for the UFC from 2008 to 2016.

Never Say Never Again: Coming into PFL 5: 2021 Regular Season, Cooper had never won by decision (29 fights), Hamlet had never been submitted (eight fights) and Young had never dropped consecutive bouts (12 fights).

<h2>Fight Finder</h2>