Kayla Harrison And Ray Cooper III Become Two-Time PFL World Champions With Thrilling Finishes
Bruno Cappelozza, Movlid Khaybulaev, Antonio Carlos Jr. And Raush Manfio Win PFL Championships And Earn $1 Million Dollar Purses
Abigail Montes Defeats Claressa Shields By Split Decision
The Professional Fighters League (PFL) concluded its 2021 season with the World Championship, featuring the final two fighters from six weight classes each fighting for PFL Championships and $1 million purses. In the night’s main event, Kayla Harrison earned her second PFL World Champion with a victory over Taylor Guardado with a 2nd round submission via armbar, pushing her career MMA winning streak to 12-0.
In the co-main event of the evening, Ray Cooper III and Magomed Magomedkerimov faced off in a highly anticipated rematch for the Welterweight title. The thrilling fight resulted in Cooper III becoming a two-time PFL Welterweight world champion after defeating the 2018 champion by 3rd round KO. The Hawaiian native is the only fighter to appear in all three PFL championship fights and snapped Magomedkerimov’s 13-fight win streak.
In a Women’s Lightweight showcase bout featuring two-time Olympic boxing gold medalist Claressa Shields and unbeaten Abigail Montes, the upstart Mexican fighter won her United States and PFL debut by razor thin split decision. Shields came into the bout with Montes after a TKO victory in her MMA debut earlier this year.
The Heavyweight division saw a hard fought clash between Bruno Cappelozza and Ante Delija. The pair exchanged heavy blows in an intense bout. The fight went the full five rounds and ultimately Cappelozza was crowned PFL Heavyweight champion for the first time by unanimous decision. The result was Cappelozza’s first win by decision, with his previous 13 wins coming by way of knockout.
Kicking off the action on ESPN2 Movlid Khaybulaev and Chris Wade fought the five-round distance with Khaybualaev, taking the unanimous decision. Khaybulaev wins his first PFL title in the Featherweight division and remains undefeated at 19-0-1, 1 NC, The native of Dagestan, the Russian trains with former champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and dedicated this this season to the legacy of his late trainer Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov.
“Tonight marked the thrilling finale of the third PFL season in which six fighters each earned $1 million dollars. I couldn’t be prouder of the athletes and our team for delivering an innovative and unique product for MMA fans around the world,” said Peter Murray, PFL CEO. “The PFL is a meritocracy where fighters are given the opportunity to prove their worth and create a legacy. I’m incredibly excited for the future of our organization.”
“Congratulations to all of the amazing athletes that competed tonight at the PFL World Championship, thank you all for an amazing 2021 season,” said Ray Sefo, President of Fighter Operations of PFL. “The PFL athletes are the best in the world and they showed it once again. I cannot wait for 2022.”
In an impressive performance, Antonio Carlos Jr. defeated Marthin Hamlet for the Light Heavyweight crown, winning by 1st round submissio and becoming the second fighter of the night to win a $1 million dollar prize. The result was Carlos Jr. ‘s 10th career win by submission, improving his PFL record to 3-0 with 1 no contest. Carlos Jr. defeated 2019 PFL Light Heavyweight champion Emiliano Sordi in the semifinals to advance to the championship.
The first of six world championship bouts saw Loik Radzhabov square off against Raush Manfio in the Lightweight division. In a grueling five round matchup, Manfio earned the victory via unanimous decision. The victory gave Manfio his first PFL World Championship and pushed his PFL streak to 4-0. Beginning the PFL Regular Season as an alternate, Manfio went on to defeat Anthony “Showtime” Pettis and Clay Collard before defeating the #1 Lightweight seed Radzhabov.
Former world champion Julia Budd was impressive in her PFL debut and defeated Katilin Young by unanimous decision. Budd is now victorious in 14 of her last 15 fights and will look to carry the momentum when she returns to the SmartCage for the PFL 2022 regular season.
Further action saw Jordan Young defeat Omari Akhmedov by 3rd round TKO in an entertaining matchup. Young earned his first win by knockout in his career and boosts his overall record to 12-2.
Leading off the ESPN+ card, Don Madge defeated Nate Williams by 2nd round submission in his PFL debut. Madge improves his career MMA record to 10-3-1 overall and will also participate in PFL’s 2022 season.
The event was the biggest night ever in MMA with 10 fighters ranked in the Top-20 worldwide competing. The 2021 PFL season was a tremendous success with fans as there was 100% audience increase for the fastest growing sports league in the world.
Kayla Harrison def. Taylor Guardado by 2nd round submission (4:00)
Ray Cooper III def. Magomed Magomedkerimov by 3rd round KO (3:02)
Abigail Montes def. Claressa Shields by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Bruno Cappelozza def. Ante Delija by unanimous decision (49-45, 48-46, 49-45)
Movlid Khaybulaev def. Chris Wade by unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45)
Antonio Carlos Jr. def. Marthin Hamlet by 1st round submission (3:49)
Raush Manfio def. Loik Radzhabov by unanimous decision (48-46, 49-46, 48-46)
Jordan Young def. Omari Akhmedov by 3rd round TKO (1:32)
Julia Budd def. Kaitlin Young by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Don Madge def. Nate Williams by 2nd round submission (2:15)
Photo Credit: PFL