NEW YORK: Thursday night, the Professional Fighters League (PFL), the first organization ever to present MMA through a Regular Season, Playoffs and Championship format, returns for 2019 playoff action at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. PFL featherweight and lightweight competitors will have to fight twice and win twice in one night to advance to the 2019 PFL World Championship on NYE in NYC, where a title and million-dollar prize will be on the line. 2018 featherweight champion Lance Palmer and 2018 lightweight champion Natan Schulte aim to repeat but will need to fight their way through stacked divisions.
“As our first playoff event showed, expect the unexpected with our fight twice in one night playoff format,” said Ray Sefo, President of Fighter Operations of the PFL. “The PFL playoffs are the toughest nights in MMA. Our featherweight and lightweight divisions feature returning champions, but they have a tough road ahead if they want to return to New York City on New Year’s Eve and secure another million-dollar payday.”
Opening the night is 2018 featherweight champion Lance Palmer. Palmer went a perfect 5-0 last year en route to the title and million-dollar prize and is on the same path this season. Palmer dominated his first two regular season fights, securing the #1 seed for these playoffs. He’ll look to extend his eight-fight win streak against his old rival, Alexandre Almeida. Palmer and Almeida have split their two previous fights. Almeida enters the playoffs as an alternate after Gadzhi Rabadanov failed to make weight.
#2 seed Movlid “The Killer” Khaybulaev earned the fastest finish in PFL history with his 10-second flying knee KO of Damon Jackson at PFL 2. The flying knee returned in a draw against Andre Harrison at PFL 5. He’ll look to replicate his regular season success against #7 Daniel Pineda, who clinched a playoff spot following a walkover win at PFL 5.
PFL newcomer Alex Gilpin takes on PFL veteran Andre Harrison in the #4 vs #5 matchup between two elite wrestlers. A win from Harrison could set up a semifinals rematch against his main rival, Lance Palmer, who defeated Harrison to advance to the 2018 World Championship. The #3 vs #6 fight is a PFL 2 rematch pitting Brazilian Luis Rafael Laurentino against Canadian Jeremy Kennedy. Kennedy will look to avenge a 23-second KO defeat at the feet of Laurentino.
In the lightweight division, Natan Schulte aims to continue to silence doubters as he charges toward a second lightweight crown. He faces #8 Ramsey Nijem in the quarterfinals, who went 5-5 in ten fights with the UFC. Long Island Native Chris Wade’s revenge tour continues after being bounced from the 2018 lightweight semifinals by Schulte. Wade faces a familiar opponent in the quarterfinals, Rhode Island’s Nate Andrews. Wade defeated Andrews at PFL 2 by unanimous decision, breaking Andrews’ nine-fight win streak.
#2 Islam Mamedov enters the playoffs on a 17-fight win streak, the longest in PFL. Last season Mamedov fell ill between the quarterfinals and semifinals and had to withdraw. His 2019 playoff campaign starts with #7 Loik Radzhabov. Rounding out the lightweight quarterfinals is #4 Akhmed Aliev vs. #5 Rashid Magomedov.
- Lance Palmer (145.8) vs Alexandre Almeida (145.0)
- Alex Gilpin (145.8) vs. Andre Harrison (145.2)
- Movlid Khaybulaev (145.4) vs. Daniel Pineda (145.4)
- Luis Rafael Laurentino (145.8) vs. Jeremy Kennedy (145.6)
- Natan Schulte (155.2) vs. Ramsey Nijem (155.8)
- Akhmed Aliev (155.4) vs. Rashid Magomedov (155.2)
- Islam Mamedov (155.2) vs. Loik Radzhabov (154.4)
- Chris Wade (155.4) vs. Nate Andrews (155.6)
Roberto Villa is the CEO, Executive Writer, Senior Editor of FightBook MMA. Has a passion for Combat Sports and also a podcast host for Sitting Ringside. He’s also a former MMA fighter and Kickboxer.
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