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PFL 5 paints playoff picture with submissions, decisions, a bit of controversy

Photo: PFL

Light heavyweights and welterweights finally have a clear playoff picture, but it did not come without a bit of drama and controversy.

In the main event of the evening, Rory MacDonald had already secured his spot in the playoffs, but his first-round opponent would depend on the outcome of the PFL 5 bout against Gleison Tibau.

After what seemed like clear dominance in at least two of the three rounds, MacDonald joined Tibau and judge Keith Peterson in the middle of the Smartcage, assuming a clear-cut decision win was on the docket.

MacDonald was visibly shocked when it was revealed that one judge scored the bout for Tibau. Then, when the decision came in as split in favor of Tibau, the online MMA community brought into question the legitimacy of judging.

“I’m very disappointed,” MacDonald said. “I think it was a clear robbery. I thought I was dominant in this fight. I believe that I clearly won that fight and it should be looked into.”

Although not mentioning specifics about this fight’s decision, President Ray Sefo had some critical words for the state of MMA judging.

“I have to agree with the fighters,” Sefo said. “Not every fight you are going to finish. If the judges are going to make a decision, it has to be a fair one. Unfortunately, it is what it is.”

Other than the main event, not much controversy took place at PFL 5. The playoff picture for these two weight classes is set for August. Leading the charge for the welterweights is Joao Zeferino who took things to the ground and secured the top spot on the leaderboard.

“I had a slow start, and I got caught in the beginning,” Zeferino said. “I was able to just implement my gameplan. I was able to capitalize and get a finish.”

Zeferino and Ray Cooper were the only ones in the division to go 2-0 in the regular season. Although Cooper missed weight and suffered a 1-point penalty, he still impressed Sefo and the fans alike on Thursday night.

“I think Ray Cooper and Nikolai [Aleksakhin] was the fight of the night for me,” Sefo said. “It was a war from round one to the end. As we all know, Ray never disappoints. He always comes to fight.”

One of the biggest comebacks in that division came from Magomed Magomedkerimov. After jumping into the division without fighting in the first regular season event due to Visa issues, he needed a finish to get enough points for the playoffs, and this is exactly what happened. After a second-round finish, Magomedkerimov can keep his playoff dreams alive.

“I knew that I had to order to secure my spot in the playoff,” Magomedkerimov said. “I did everything to get that result…”

For the light heavyweights, Brazilians Antonio Carlos Jr. and Cezar Ferreira lead the pack with seven and six points respectively. Carlos Jr.’s fight ended with a groin shot and Vinny Magalhaes was unable to continue, so it was declared a no contest.

“I did not expect the fight to go that way,” Carlos Jr. said. “I hope Vinny is well. I am happy for being in the playoffs and being number one.”

Now that stage is set for these two weight classes, fans have to wait until August to see them back in action. Until then, PFL 6 will be the final regular season event next Friday on ESPN+.

PFL Current Standings


Joao Zeferino: 2-0, 8 points

Rory MacDonald: 1-1, 6 points

Ray Cooper III: 2-0, 5 points

Magomed Magomedkerimov: 1-0, 5 points

Sadibou Sy: 1-0-0, 1 NC, 4 points

Nikolai Aleksakhin: 0-1-0, 1 NC, 4 points

Gleison Tibau: 1-1, 3 points

Jason Ponet: 0-2, 0 points

Curtis Millender: 0-2, 0 points

Aleksei Kunchenko: 0-1, -1 points

Light Heavyweight:

Antonio Carlos Jr.: 1-0-0, 1 NC, 7 points

Cezar Ferreira: 1-1, 6 points

Mathin Hamlet: 1-1, 5 points

Emiliano Sordi: 1-0-1, 4 points

Cory Hendricks: 1-0, 4 points

Chris Camozzi: 1-1, 3 points

Tom Lawlor: 1-1, 3 points

Jordan Young: 1-1, 3 points

Dan Spohn: 0-1-1, 1 point

Vinny Magalhaes: 0-1-0, 1 NC, 0 points

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