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Cooper III, Manfio among those to move closer to $1 million PFL prize

Photo: PFL

Friday night featured a whole host of fights on the preliminary card and the first round of the 2021 PFL playoffs for welterweights and lightweights.

With these two super competitive weight classes on full display, MMA fans saw high pacing, submission attempts, and a little bit of controversy.

“What a great night,” PFL President Ray Sefo said. “As you see up here, we have four guys, two lightweights and two welterweights that will be competing for the title. It’s going to be an amazing night when it comes to Oct. 27.”

The first fight of the evening came between No. 1 seeded lightweight Loik Radzhabov and No. 4 stand-in Alexander Martinez. Radzhabov was super strong and showed that he is a force to reckon with in the division.

This rematch followed a questionable resolution to their last match that saw Martinez come out on top, so Radzhabov felt good about getting this one back.

“It was a very disappointing decision in the first fight,” Radzhabov said. “I wanted to get a finish, but as long as I get a victory I am happy.”

The final lightweight bout of the evening ended in a bit of controversy. No. 2 seed Clay Collard and No. 3 Raush Manfio faced off with collard being a former UFC fighter and successful boxer and Manfio being a young Brazilian who is in his prime.

After the first two rounds seemingly going Collard’s way, Manfio found some success in the third. Just about all of Twitter was anticipating a 29-28 victory in favor of Collard. But, when the scores were read off, it was Manfio’s hand that was raised.

According to Verdict MMA, a platform where viewers can score the fights and the data is analyzed, Collard was picked to win 29.1-27.94. The decimals are because of the aggregation of scores from the thousands of people who scored the bout.

To end the evening, the 170 pounders faced off in a pair of fights that set up a rematch for the title.

The main event was all about Ray Cooper III. The former 170-pound champ outwrestled former Bellator champ and UFC fan-favorite Rory MacDonald. Although the fight went to decision, Cooper had complete control.

As the favorite of the night, Magomed Magomedkerimov dominated Sadibou Sy, who stepped in as an alternate for the tournament.

Magomedkerimov has already beat Cooper, so the rematch will be redemption for the former champ and a huge opportunity for Magomedkerimov to cement his dominance.

“I am just a little more controlled in my approach to the fight,” Cooper said. “I’m a young man and I have grown from that fight before. I am ready for the next one.”

To watch the heavyweights and women’s lightweights, tune into ESPN+ on Aug. 19.

PFL Playoffs Standings


Ray Cooper III- 2-1

Magomed Magomedkerimov- 2-0

Rory Macdonald- 1-2

Sadibou Sy- 1-1, 1 NC


Raush Manfio- 3-0

Clay Collard- 2-1

Loik Radzhabov- 2-1

Alexander Martinez- 1-2

Bold indicates winner who moves on to the final

All records shown are just for the 2021 PFL season.

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