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Magomed Magomedkerimov won the 2018 Professional Fighters League welterweight tournament and he’s well on his way to replicating the feat this year.
Magomedkerimov (25-5) dominated Ohio’s Chris Curtis for three rounds in the PFL 4: 2019 Regular Season event at Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Thursday night, winning a lopsided unanimous decision. Magomedkerimov landed scattered punches and kicks, but the key to victory was his strength in the clinch and on the ground.
The Russian took Curtis (21-6) down repeatedly, threatened with submissions and landed moderate ground-and-pound whenever the fight hit the deck. Curtis never gave up and in the third round he began talking all sorts of trash, but he was never able to find a rhythm and was on the defensive until the end. Magomedkerimov wound up winning the judges’ nod via tallies of 30-27 (twice) and 30-26 to earn three points heading into the welterweight playoffs where the two will rematch in the quarterfinals.
Two-time Olympic gold medal-winning judoka Kayla Harrison dominated Morgan Frier in the co-main event, submitting her in the opening frame. Harrison (5-0) forced her foe to the ground early and quickly moved to scarf hold, where she unloaded dozens of short punches to Frier’s head. Frier (4-3) was trapped under Harrison’s immense pressure and eventually had to tap out once the Ohio native locked in a textbook cross-body key lock. The end came officially at 3:35 of the first, giving Harrison six points and the second seed in the lightweight playoffs.
Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace Joao Zeferino threatened fellow welterweight Bojan Velickovic with several submissions, but he was never able to put him away. Instead, “The Brazilian Samurai” out struck his foe and when he needed to, he took Velickovic (16-10-2) off his feet. Zeferino (24-9) nearly landed a rear-naked choke in the closing moments of their battle, but he had to instead settle for a unanimous decision win. Two judges had it 30-27 and the third saw it 29-28 for Zeferino, who earned three points but didn’t get a spot in the playoffs.
UFC veteran John Howard punched his way into the PFL’s welterweight playoffs by upsetting last season’s championship runner-up Ray Cooper III. After being taken down early in the first, “Doomsday” muscled his way back to his feet and engaged his Hawaiian counterpart in a slugfest. A left hook from Howard rocked Cooper III (18-6) and then Howard dropped him with a follow-up left hook to the jaw. “Bradda Boy” was then pelted by a pair of follow-up punches, giving Howard (28-15) the knockout win at 3:23 of the first. The win earned Howard six points.
After arguably losing the first two rounds, Brazil’s Glaico Franca rallied late to stop Sadibou Sy late in the third. Sy (8-5) landed several nasty kicks to the legs, arms and body of Franca, but “Brazilian Zombie” scored a timely takedown in the final round. From there, he slowly moved to full mount and then rained down a barrage of punches on the Swede’s arms and head until referee Gasper Oliver stopped it. Franca (21-5) got the TKO win to earn four points and the No. 1 seed in the welterweight playoffs.
He came in as a sizable betting underdog, but David Michaud wound up stopping Brazil’s Handesson Ferreira in the first. After “Boy Doido” inadvertently poked Michaud in the eye and kicked him in the groin, Michaud (15-5) never faltered and stuck to his guns. Ferreira (14-3-1) was dropped by a right hook to the jaw during a heated exchange and once he hit the deck, “Bulldawg” pounced on him and landed in crucifix. From there, Michaud unloaded an endless stream of short left hands to the head until referee Keith Peterson had to pull him off. The end came at 4:37 of the first, giving Michaud six points and a spot in the welterweight playoffs.
Brazil’s Larissa Pacheco made it look easy as she wiped out previously-undefeated Bobbi Jo Dalziel in the opening round. After the lightweights traded punches as soon as the contest began, Pacheco (12-3) took her Canadian adversary down. From there, Pacheco moved to full mount and locked in a belly-down armbar, forcing Dalziel (4-1) to tap out. The end came officially at 2:31 of the frame, handing Pacheco six points and giving her a spot in the playoffs.
New Zealand’s Genah Fabian was explosive in her lightweight match against Moriel Charneski as she stopped her in the first round. “Fabioso” fended off a pair of takedown attempts and then dropped Charneski (3-7) with a sizzling left hook to the head. Fabian (2-1) followed her to the canvas and swarmed her with punches, forcing referee Gasper Oliver to step in and halt the beating. The end officially came at of the first, giving Fabian six points and a guaranteed spot in the women’s lightweight playoffs.