ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – June 17, 2021 – The second half of the Professional Fighters League (PFL) Regular Season continued to deliver exciting MMA action, with another thrilling event on Thursday night that saw eight fighters punch their tickets into the 2021 PFL Playoffs. Joao Zeferino and Antonio Carlos Jr. clinched number one seeds in the welterweight and light heavyweight divisions respectively.
In the marquee matchup of the ten-fight event and final welterweight contest of the Regular Season, Gleison Tibau pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the Regular Season with a split decision victory over Rory MacDonald. Even with the loss, MacDonald will be advancing into the Playoffs after finishing the Regular Season with 6 points, good for second place in the welterweight division.
The co-main event saw welterweight action with Ray Cooper III, who was ineligible to earn points due to missing weight, facing Nikolai Aleksakhin. Cooper III came away with a unanimous decision win and a spot in the Playoffs. The 2019 PFL champion and 2018 runner up, Cooper III has now made the PFL Playoffs for the third consecutive year.
Meanwhile in the light heavyweight division, playoff implications were high as Emiliano Sordi and Dan Spohn, each in win-or-go-home situations, faced off in the final 205-pound matchup of the evening. After three rounds of furious back-and-forth action, Sordi and Spohn battled to a draw, giving each fighter one point, and moving Sordi into a tie in the standings with Cory Hendricks. Sordi advanced to the 2021 PFL Playoffs via tiebreaker based on the number of Regular Season fights (2-to-1).
In the first fight of the main card, light heavyweights Cezar Ferreira and Chris Camozza squared off in a hard-hitting contest.The fight went the three round distance, with Camozzi earning the unanimous decision victory and three points. Since Camozzi did not secure a finish, he has been eliminated from playoff contention. As a result Marthin Hamlet has earned a playoff spot.
“PFL 5 was another intense event as our welterweight and light heavyweight fighters put it all on the line to try to earn their spot in the playoffs,” said Peter Murray, PFL CEO. “Heading into their bouts, each fighter knew exactly what was needed to advance and it brought out their best performances.”
“With their backs up against the wall and facing win-or-go-home scenarios, we saw eight fighters showcase their talents and punch tickets to the 2021 PFL Playoffs,” said Ray Sefo, President of Fighter Operations of PFL. “Our unique season format allows us to have thrilling, can’t-miss action at every event and I can’t wait to see what’s in store at our Regular Season finale next Friday.”
In earlier action, Magomed Magomedkerimov wasted no time in his 2021 PFL Regular Season debut against Curtis Millender and picked up a first round submission, earning him six points in the welterweight division and a spot in the playoffs.
Joao Zeferino clinched his second-ever PFL Playoff spot with a second-round submission against Jason Ponet, earning eight points to finish atop the welterweight standings. Zeferino clinched a spot in the 2018 playoffs, but was forced to withdraw due to injury.
Hendricks defeated Hamlet by submission in the third-round, bringing his 2021 PFL Regular Season point total to four points, leaving him just short of the light heavyweight playoffs. With the result, Ferreira and Antonio Carlos Jr. both clinched their spots in the PFL Playoffs.
Carlos Jr.’s fight against Vinny Magahlhaes ended in a no contest due to an accidental low blow, with each fighter earning one point.
To kick off the ESPN+ card, Sadibou Sy and Aleksei Kunchenko went the distance in a welterweight matchup. Sy was awarded the victory by unanimous decision, pushing his season total to four points. In the first light heavyweight matchup of the night, Tom Lawlor defeated Jordan Young by unanimous decision, earning three points in the standings.
The 2021 Semifinal matchups in the welterweight division will see the top-seeded Zeferino against Magomedkerimov, and MacDonald matched up with Cooper III.
The 2021 Semifinal matchups in the light heavyweight division will see the top-seeded Carlos Jr. against 2019 champion Sordi, and Ferreira versus Hamlet.
The PFL returns to Ocean Casino Resort next Friday, June 25 as the league’s heavyweights and women’s lightweights make their final push for the 2021 PFL playoffs. All eyes will be on 2019 PFL Champion Kayla Harrison as she looks to continue her dominant run through the division to earn a spot in the PFL playoffs. Additionally, the final lightweight and featherweight playoff contenders will also be decided at PFL 6.
All PFL 2021 Season events are live in primetime on ESPN networks and streaming platforms, as well as on a wide and diverse group of premier global distribution partner platforms reaching 160 countries around the world.
Gleison Tibau def. Rory MacDonald by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
Ray Cooper III def. Nikolai Aleksakhin by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28)
Emiliano Sordi and Dan Spohn ends in a unanimous draw (28-28, 28-28, 28-28)
Chris Camozzi def. Cezar Ferreira by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27)
Antonio Carlos Jr. Vinny Magalhaes ends in a No Contest (accidental low blow, 2:45)
Cory Hendricks def. Marthin Hamlet by third round submission (4:09)
Joao Zeferino def. Jason Ponet by 2nd round submission (2:16)
Magomed Magomedkerimov def. Curtis Millender by 1st round submission (1:57)
Tom Lawlor def. Jordan Young (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Saibou Sy def. Aleksei Kunchenko by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
PFL 2021 SEASON STANDINGS
Light Heavyweight Division
Roberto Villa is the CEO, Founder, 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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