What was thought by some to be a coronation for Ray Cooper III turned into a coming-out party for Magomed Magomedkerimov.
The rising American Top Team welterweight submitted Cooper with a second-round guillotine choke in the 2018 Professional Fighters League Championships main event on Monday inside the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York. One of six division champions crowned and awarded $1 million prizes by the PFL, Magomedkerimov (23-5, 5-0 PFL) drew the curtain 2:18 into Round 2.
Cooper (17-5, 4-1 PFL) was not afforded the opportunity to put his dazzling offensive skills to work. Magomedkerimov circled out of danger and lured the heavy-handed Hawaiian into the clinch before executing a single-leg takedown and nearly sealing the deal with a rear-naked choke in the first round. Cooper withstood his advances, but did not keep his counterpart at bay for long. Magomedkerimov caught the guillotine in a scramble midway through the second round, wrapped the former Gladiator Challenge champion in full guard and prompted the tapout.
Resurgent Lins Dissects Copeland
Bellator MMA veteran Philipe Lins systematically dismantled Josh Copeland and took care of the former Resurrection Fighting Alliance champion with punches and knees in the fourth round of their PFL heavyweight final. Copeland (18-6-1, 3-2-1 PFL) bowed out 30 seconds into Round 4.
Lins (14-3, 4-0 PFL) picked apart the Colorado-based “Cuddly Bear” with calf kicks and devastating punching combinations. Copeland at some point seemed to make the decision to use his head as a shield, lowering his hands and inviting the Brazilian to fire away. Lins obliged, as he cracked him with sweeping hooks, punishing jabs, short-range knees and the occasional uppercut. He flurried at the start of the fourth round, and with Copeland either no longer willing or no longer able to defend himself, referee Dan Miragliotta intervened.
Operating out of American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida, Lins has pieced together a four-fight winning streak.
O’Connell Breaks Exhausted Magalhaes
Sean O'Connell chipped away at Vinny Magalhaes with power punches and forced a corner stoppage against the 2011 Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist in between the third and fourth rounds of the 2018 PFL light heavyweight final. An utterly exhausted Magalhaes (18-10, 4-1 PFL) retreated to his corner at the conclusion of the third round and appeared to inform his trainers that he did not wish to continue.
O’Connell (21-10, 4-1 PFL) bucked the popular belief that he could not survive an extended ground exchange with the decorated Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. Magalhaes had him in all kinds of trouble in the first round, where he struck for a takedown, moved to the back, threaded his hooks and searched for a finish. His efforts not only proved unsuccessful but compromised his cardio.
A longtime Jeremy Horn protégé, O’Connell partnered with fatigue in the second and third rounds, where he drilled “The Ultimate Fighter 8” finalist with repeated left hooks and utilized an airtight sprawl. Magalhaes grew increasingly desperate and attempted to pull guard on multiple occasions, to no avail.
Afterward, O’Connell affirmed his plans to retire from MMA.
Brazilian Schulte Upends Magomedov
American Top Team’s Natan Schulte benefitted from a point deduction and overcame a substantial striking deficit with takedowns and a super-glue clinch, as he took a unanimous decision from former M-1 Global champion Rashid Magomedov in the five-round lightweight final. Schulte (15-3-1, 4-0-1 PFL) swept the scorecards with 49-46 marks from all three judges.
Magomedov (22-3-1, 2-1-1 PFL) was effective in space, unleashing a variety of kicks and crisp punching combinations to the body and head. However, an inadvertent eye poke in the second round cost him a point and valuable momentum. Schulte engaged the Gorets Fight Team representative at close range and frustrated him with trips and foot sweeps. It was enough to curry favor from the judges.
The loss was Magomedov’s first since November 2016.
Palmer Shuts Out Siler
Repeated takedowns, suffocating top control and intermittent ground-and-pound carried Lance Palmer to a lopsided unanimous decision over Factory X standout Steven Siler in the five-round featherweight final. All three cageside judges scored it for Palmer (17-3, 6-0 PFL): 50-43, 50-45 and 49-46.
Siler (32-18-1, 3-2-1 PFL) lacked the means necessary to deal with the four-time NCAA All-American wrestler. Palmer executed takedowns in all five rounds, bottled up “The Ultimate Fighter 14” alum on the mat and generally made his life miserable, bringing the reality of his situation to light with death-by-a-thousand-cuts calculation. He did his best work across the final 15 minutes, threatening Siler with a rear-naked choke at one point and later utilizing the wrist ride to pound his exposed face with punches.
Palmer, 30, has won six fights in a row.
Taylor KOs Favored Magomedov
Chicago Fight Team export Louis Taylor delivered a sensational one-punch knockout of Abusupiyan Magomedov inside the first minute of their 2018 PFL middleweight final. A 4-to-1 favorite, Abusupiyan (22-4-1, 3-1-1 PFL) hit the deck 33 seconds into Round 1.
The 185-pound finalists traded leg kicks before Taylor (18-4-1, 5-0-1 PFL) sent the UFD Gym representative crashing to the canvas with a perfectly placed lunging left hook to the temple. Magomedov was unconscious before he hit the ground, as referee Dan Miragliotta arrived on the scene to call for the stoppage.
The 39-year-old Taylor finds himself on a six-fight unbeaten streak heading into 2019.
Unbeaten Harrison Obliterates Charneski
Undefeated two-time Olympic gold medalist Kayla Harrison disposed of King of the Cage veteran Moriel Charneski with punches in the first round of their women’s lightweight showcase. Charneski (3-5, 0-1 PFL) succumbed to blows 3:39 into Round 1.
Harrison (3-0, 3-0 PFL) scored with a head-and-arm throw and climbed to full mount inside the first 20 seconds. Charneski escaped to her feet for a brief instant, only to be met with a spectacular hip toss from the front headlock position. Harrison advanced to the back and hunted an armbar before flattening out her adversary and cutting loose with punches until referee Kevin MacDonald had seen enough.
The 28-year-old Harrison has finished all three of her opponents, two of them in the first round.