The Season 5 finals are set in the PFL lightweight and welterweight tournaments as Clay Collard takes on Olivier Aubin-Mercier in the 155-pound finals while Magomed Magomedkerimov faces Sadibou Sy for the 170-pound championship.
Collard closed the show with a “Fight of the Year” candidate against Shane Burgos, a slight betting favorite among several oddsmakers and a comeback story after his UFC defection got off to a rough start.
Over 600 strikes were thrown between the lightweights in the main event of Wednesday’s fight card at The Theater at Madison Square Garden, a reflection of the frenetic and brutal pace at which both fighters competed. Collard targeted the body and head in his war of attrition, landing 178 punches. Burgos targeted his opponent’s legs, leaving Collard’s a tomato-colored mess with 49 kicks.
At the end of the day, Collard’s early work won the day. A second-round knockdown likely sealed the frame, and a valiant surge from Burgos in the final round wasn’t enough to avoid unanimous 29-28 scores. Burgos was again denied the spotlight, while Collard secured his third trip to the $1 million tourney finals.
OAM back for second straight
Season 4 winner Olivier Aubin-Mercier is headed back to the finals after stopping Bruno Miranda with a flurry of ground and pound. The end started with a straight left hand that sat down Miranda, and the French Canadian seized the moment with a flurry of ground and pound that forced referee intervention at the 4:41 mark of the second round.
Sy squeaks back to the finals
Season 4 champ Sadibou Sy had to fight tooth and nail to keep Carlos Leal from smothering him for three rounds. Leal did little to hide his plan, and for one round, he managed to execute it. Sy, however, showed more dimensions to his game, fighting off the takedown and reversing a mount transition in the third that allowed him to do what he does best – stand and strike. One judge awarded Leal the fight 29-28, but two dissented for Sy via the same tally, putting him in the Season 5 tournament finals.
Magomedkerimov advances to third final
A late surge from Solomon Renfro wasn’t enough to overcome Magomed Magomedkerimov’s early work in rounds. The Season 1 champ sniped at distance with kicks and then expertly transitioned to takedowns when Renfro got too close. Renfro finally found his sprawl in the third and even picked up a high-amplitude takedown. But the stats were not in his favor, and all three judges gave Magomedkerimov the 30-27 shutout.
Ali Walsh logs another knockout
Biaggio Ali Walsh, the grandson of Muhammad Ali, picked up his fifth straight knockout with a hard three-punch combination that put Ed Walsh on the canvas at 2:23 of the second round. Davis protested the decision, angry with the referee’s intervention that came as soon as he hit the ground. Even Walsh admitted it was an early stoppage in his post-fight interview. But it accomplished what he and the PFL sought – to build his star in MMA.
Full PFL 9 results:
Clay Collard def. Shane Burgos via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Olivier Aubin-Mercier def. Bruno Miranda via TKO (ground and pound) – Round 2, 4:41
Sadibou Sy def. Carlos Leal via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Magomed Magomedkerimov def. Solomon Renfro via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Biaggio Ali Walsh def. Ed Davis via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 2:23