Magomed Magomedkerimov seized the welterweight championship and the $1 million prize that came with it during the inaugural Professional Fighters League season last year.
Now, the Russian mixed martial arts fighter is in position to deposit another cool million into his bank account, but he’ll have to recover from a costly injury to do so.
Magomedkerimov scored a unanimous decision victory (30-27, 30-27, 30-26) over Chris Curtis in the main event of PFL 4 at the Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, N.J., on Thursday night and live on ESPN2 to earn three points and clinch the second seed in the welterweight playoffs. Magomedkerimov made the win look easy but it was anything but that, because he had to work through a broken hand he suffered early in the fight.
“In the first minute of the first round I broke my hand,” Magomedkerimov revealed in the cage during his postfight interview. “I couldn’t throw it or grip with it anymore. That’s the only reason [Curtis] made it to the end of the fight. Hopefully it isn’t too serious and I will be able to heal up in time for the playoffs, so I can end him next time we fight.”
He’ll have time to recover, considering that the welterweight quarterfinals will be held Oct. 11 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. Magomedkerimov will face Curtis in that opening round of the playoffs in a rematch.
Magomedkerimov thoroughly dominated the fight despite the injury. He put Curtis on notice early with a display of power, taking down the American fighter and peppering him with punches.
He only encountered trouble in the third round, when Curtis was swinging and managed to trap Magomedkerimov in a guillotine. Magomedkerimov kept his cool and escaped the submission attempt before kneeing Curtis to the body, taking his back and connecting with more punches.
If the regular season was a preview of what’s to come in the playoffs, then Magomedkerimov fully delivered the message that he’s sitting on his throne until someone dares to knock him off.
In addition to second-seeded Magomedkerimov facing No. 7 Curtis, the rest of the welterweight playoff quarterfinal matches have been set:
- (1) Glaico Franca vs. Andre Fialho (8)
- (4) John Howard vs. David Michaud (5)
- (3) Sadibou Sy vs. Ray Cooper III (6)
Kayla Harrison makes quick work of Morgan Frier with first-round submission (key lock) to collect six points and clinch playoff spot
Harrison seized her first PFL playoff berth by pounding Frier’s head on the ground and cinching in the key lock.
“The submission was probably there earlier in the round, but I really like hitting people since I was never allowed to in judo,” Harrison said in the cage after the win. “I’m going to be the best, I’m going to be even better than Khabib (Nurmagomedov) when I am done.”
That’s a statement and a half.
With the victory, the two-time Olympic gold medalist in judo clinched the women’s lightweight second seed, setting the table for a possible championship final between herself and No. 1 seed Sarah Kaufman.
Before PFL 4 even kicked off, Kaufman took to her Twitter account Wednesday to explain that she wouldn’t be featured on the PFL 4 card because her scheduled opponent, Roberta Samad, failed to make weight.
Samad’s blunder gave Kaufman three points and a playoff berth as the top seed, not to mention an unexpected night off and an opportunity to see Harrison up close and personal.
Harrison and Kaufman can meet in the championship match for the lightweight title and $1 million if Harrison defeats Genah Fabian and Kaufman can get past Larissa Pacheco in the semifinals at the Mandalay Bay on Oct. 11.
Joao Zeferino def. Bojan Velickovic by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) to earn three points
Zeferino took Velickovic’s back with less than a minute remaining in the fight but failed to get the finish he needed to secure a spot in the playoffs.
Despite the bittersweet ending, Zeferino did take pleasure in dedicating his win to his dad, who was in attendance.
“I am glad I was able to fight through all the hardships to get to this point,” Zeferino said in the cage. “This week is my father’s birthday and he flew all the way from Brazil to watch me fight. If you want to know what’s real? Who is real? That guy (pointing to his father) is the real deal.”
John Howard demolishes Ray Cooper III with first-round KO (punches) to bag six points; welterweights
Howard uncorked a huge left hook to crumple Cooper to the canvas. The 2018 welterweight runner-up got up but was wobbly and never the same. Howard unleashed another blistering left hook to end Cooper’s night in brutal fashion.
“First off, I have nothing but respect for Ray Cooper. He is a tough fighter and I knew he was trying to hit me hard; I just had to hit him harder first,” Howard said in the cage after he had clinched a postseason berth. “I feel a certain way about how things went down in the playoffs last year and I’m looking for a different outcome this year.”
Earlier action on ESPN+
- Glacio Franca def. Sadibou Sy by third-round TKO (punches) to snatch four points and clinch a spot in the playoffs; welterweights
- David Michaud def. Handesson Ferreira by first-round TKO (punches) to garner six points and clinch a spot in the playoffs; welterweights
- Larissa Pacheco def. Bobbi Jo Dalziel by first-round submission (armbar) to gain six points and clinch a spot in the playoffs; lightweights
- Genah Fabian def. Moriel Charneski by first-round TKO (punches) to earn six points and clinch a playoff spot; lightweights