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Professional Fighters League was back for their third event of the 2019 season. It saw 12 heavyweight and light heavyweights mixed martial artists compete in the first round of their respective tournaments.
In the main event, Emiliano Sordi appeared to have an answer for everything that Vinny Magalhaes threw at him. "He-Man" had an edge on the feet and managed to drop Magalhaes (18-11, 1 NC) early on in the first. While the Brazilian fought back and was able to get Sordi (18-8) down to the ground several times, the Argentinean popped right up with ease. The Brazilian had nothing left in the second round and Dan Miragliotta mercifully stopped the bout at 2:45 This gave Sordi five points and put him in second place in the light heavyweight tournament.
It was a quick night for Kelvin Tiller as he delivered the first loss to Muhammed DeReese. The formerly undefeated fighter was outstriking Tiller (11-2) on the feet and eventually took the veteran down to the ground. That proved to be a mistake as Tiller latched on a kimura, swept DeReese (7-1) and then got the tap at 3:22 of the first in order to earn six points.
It wasn't easy, but Satoshi Ishii managed to make a successful PFL debut against Ezekiel Wily. Ishii (21-8-1) decided to trade blows with his heavier foe and both fighters landed some damaging shots. Wily (3-2) was able to keep the veteran on his toes but wasn't able to keep the same pace as the 2008 Olypmic judoka. Ishii eventually took the fight to the ground in the final frame, and it was enough to secure a split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).
Denis Goltsov made short work of Jared Rosholt. Goltsov (23-5) didn't have to deal with the ground game of Rosholt (17-7) as he managed to knock him down with a tight left hand early on in the first round. A few punches later and referee Dan Miragliotta stepped in to make the save. The quick victory gave the Russian six points and put him in first place in the standings.
2008 Olympic wrestler Ali Isaev did what he does best against Valdrin Istrefi en route to a lopsided unanimous decision. Isaev (5-0) controlled the action, scored takedowns and mauled his foe on the canvas and won the fight 30-27 across the board. The win allowed the Russian to pick up three points in the heavyweight division. Istrefi fell to 13-3.
Russian contender Viktor Nemkov landed a slightly higher margin of impactful strikes and controlled the majority of the pace against Rakim Cleveland and walked out of the cage a winner. Nemkov (27-7) didn't ever have his American counterpart in serious peril during their allotted three rounds, but he still did just enough to win a close unanimous decision. All three judges had it 29-28 for Nemkov, who earned three points in the light heavyweight division. "The Boogeyman" fell to 19-12.
UFC veteran Ronny Markes looked terrific in vanquishing MMA newcomer Sigi Pesaleli in the second round. The Brazilian utilized his jiu jitsu prowess to set up his attacks, but Markes (19-7) wound up finishing the bout via punches. Markes took Pesaleli (0-1) down and threatened the longtime kickboxer with a myriad of submissions, but once "Showtime" gave up his back, Markes unloaded a series of punches until referee Dan Miragliotta intervened. Though he won, Markes nabbed zero points because he failed to make weight at Wednesday's weigh-ins; Pesaleli, however, earned three points because of Markes' mishap.
Rashid Yusupov reigned supreme in a matchup of Russians as he dominated Mikhail Mokhnatkin for three rounds. Yusupov (11-1) scored multiple takedowns and nearly knocked his foe out with punches in the second. Mokhnatkin (11-4) survived the onslaught but wound up losing badly on points; two judges saw it 30-27 and the third had it 30-26, allowing Yusupov to earn three points in the light heavyweight division.
UFC veteran Francimar Barroso capped off the preliminary portion of the card by besting Alex Nicholson via split decision after three rounds. "The Spartan" rallied in the third and had Barroso in peril due to some solid ground-and-pound, but the Brazilian's takedowns in the first two rounds were the key. While one judge scored it 29-28 for Nicholson (13-8), that tally was offset when the other two officials turned in the same score for Barroso (23-7-1, 1 NC). "Bodao" took home three points in the heavyweight division with the win.
Maxim Grishin (29-7-1) toppled over the unbeaten record of American Jordan Johnson as he won a unanimous decision. The fight was close throughout, but "Maximus" landed the harder blows and scored a knockdown in the third. All three judges had it 30-27 for Grishin, which handed "Big Swinging" Johnson (10-1) his first pro loss. Grishin took home three points in the light heavyweight division.
Croatia's Ante Delija dominated Samoa's Carl Seumanutafa (11-10) for three rounds, winning a lopsided unanimous decision for his efforts. Delija (16-3) scored multiple takedowns and landed the better overall punches in the fight and when it was over, two judges saw it 30-26 for "Walking Trouble" and the third had it 30-27. The win gives Delija three points in the heavyweight division.
In the opening bout of the night, Russia's Bozigit Ataev (20-3) avenged a loss from last season by dispatching fellow light heavyweight Dan Spohn (18-7) in the first round. "Volk" rocked the American with a loopy overhand right early in the frame, eventually dropped him with follow-up punches and then put him away with an endless swarm of lefts and rights. The end came officially at 3:25 of the first, awarding Ataev six points.