The PFL Championship will usher in the new year with six fights and $10 Million on the line! It has been quite a season for the promotion and what better night to finish it off than on New Year’s Eve in the Hulu Theater of Madison Square Garden. There have been some epic moments, great come-from-behind victories, questionable decisions, and outright silly sequences, but PFL has delivered a fun and entertaining tournament no question. I want to do a quick breakdown of the fights and give my last predictions of 2018.
Welterweight- #1 Ray Cooper III vs. #3 Magomed Magomedkerimov
I had to cover this fight first. The talk of the tournament has been Ray Cooper III and his pure domination of the Welterweight division. He has won all four of his contests by knockout (with six knockouts if you include the three times he slept Shields in their first match) and has barely made it past three minutes in a contest. Jake Shields 1 was his longest match lasting until 2:09 in the second round, but his quickest came at 0.18 seconds of the fight against Pavel Kusch.
Magomedkerimov has fared well too. He is 4-0 this season with two unanimous decisions and two finishes. He was able to sink in a rear-naked choke in the first round and secured his spot in the finale with a TKO win over Bojan Velickovic. Both of these men are talented fighters, but there is no way I am going against Ray Cooper III in this one.
PREDICTION: Ray Cooper III (RND 1) TKO
Heaveyweight- #3 Philipe Lins vs. #8 Josh Copeland
Josh Copeland has been this tournament Cinderella if Cinderella could brutally knock you out off her back foot. Copeland advanced as the eight seed by knocking out Alex Nicholson as he was retreating from some hard shots. Nicholson overpursued, much like he did in his previous loss, and Copeland made him pay. But now he has to take on Philipe Lins, who has finished all three of his fights.
Lins also knocked out Alex Nicholson, in almost the identical way Copeland did, in his first fight for PFL. He then went on to secure a 0.58-second guillotine submission against Caio Alencar, and another TKO against Jared Rosholt in the early second round.
I love Copeland’s story, but I think the clock strikes midnight for Cinderella, and Lins is victorious.
PREDICTION: Philipe Lins (RND 1) Submission
Light Heavyweight- #1 Vinny Magalhaes vs. #6 Sean O’Connell
Part-time commentator, full-time entertainer, Sean O’Connell is back in the cage and takes on another of PFL’s dominating forces, Vinny Magalhaes. O’Connell has been pretty spectacular this season, winning with a comeback TKO over Ronny Markes in the opening round of the tournament, winning a comeback majority decision in the playoffs and then knocking out Smealinho Rama to advance to the championship. Some of these wins coming after O’Connell spent the first portion of the night providing commentary from cage side.
His opponent, however, doesn’t know what come-from-behind means. Magalhaes has finished all four of his bouts in less than two minutes. He has been incredibly dominant throughout the tournament, and he is only one Sean O’Connell away from one million dollars.
PREDICTION: Sean O’Connell (RND 3) TKO
Lightweight- #1 Natan Schulte vs. #7 Rashid Magomedov
This matchup has all the makings to go the distance, so we can almost count on a one-minute knockout! All joking aside, there have only been two finishes between these two in their seven PFL fights. Magomedov won a majority draw over Will Brooks and secured his spot in the finale with a TKO victory over Thiago Tavares.
Schulte has maintained his undefeated season with two decisions over Chris Wade, an RNC submission on Jason High, and a majority draw against Jonny Case. This is a tough fight to predict, but I smell an upset.
PREDICTION: Rashid Magomedov-Decision
Featherweight- #1 Steven Siler vs. #2 Lance Palmer
This is the Moose’s Must Watch Matchup. Siler has had some lucky breaks on his way to the finale, but that doesn’t mean his path was easy. He got dropped by a hard shot from Magomed Idrisov, but was able to secure a triangle choke and walked away with a win. He fought Alexandre Almeida twice and won both with some controversy. The first matchup was stopped as the referee stopped the fight and awarded Siler a technical submission, seeming to think Almeida had passed out. Upon look at the replay, it appeared Almeida was leaning back to adjust his position. I do not know if he was out of not, but Siler got the W.
In the final round of the PFL playoffs the two met again, and this time Almeida kicked Siler with an illegal upkick while Siler was on his knees. Siler could not continue and won via DQ. Don’t let those fool you though. Siler is as legit as they come. He presents a unique challenge on the ground with his long limbs.
Lance Palmer is the real deal too, finally taking down his nemesis Andre Harrison to advance as the number two seed. Palmer has beaten Siler before by unanimous decision in November of 2017. Palmer’s incredible wrestling and constant pressure is nothing to be taken lightly. He will take you down and wear you out with constant strikes and submission attempts. I don’t think Palmer falls short of the belt this go around.
Prediction: Lance Palmer (RND 3) Submission
Middleweight- #1 Abus Magomedov vs. #2 Louis Taylor
Louis Taylor can be so fun to watch. He loves to back you into the fence and then unload a barrage of strikes. But he also brings an aspect of wrestling and Jui Jitsu into the cage. Louis started off the tournament with a third-round TKO of Anderson Goncalves then followed that performance with two unanimous decisions, and a majority draw to advance to the million dollar party.
Magomedov started with two KOs before the playoffs, where he advanced by majority draw and unanimous decision.
The second of our two One vs. Two matchups and I think I lean with the lower seed again here.
Prediction: Louis Taylor (RND 2) Submission
Special Event- Kayla Harrison vs. Moriel Charneski
Last but not least I wanted to mention the special event, Kayla Harrison is returning to action. This time she takes on 3-4 Moriel Charneski. Harrison is a Judo phenom but has improved in her all-around game from fight to fight. There isn’t much to say, but I am excited to see how she has developed since her last PFL bout.
Prediction: Kayla Harrison (RND 1) Submission
Ambush Staff PFL Predictions
Blake Riccard (WWE Correspondent)- Cooper, Copeland, O’Connell, Siler, Abus Magomedov, Rashid Magomedov, Charneski
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