The two pre-season welterweight favourites picked up crucial victories as Rory MacDonald and Ray Cooper III got their seasons off to a winning start at PFL 2 in Atlantic City.
Former Bellator welterweight champion and ex-UFC title challenger MacDonald delivered an early-season statement to the rest of the welterweight field by claiming a first-round submission victory over fellow ex-UFC fighter Curtis Millender.
But 2019 welterweight champion Cooper outdid the Canadian star by also claiming a first-round submission win, but securing the victory two minutes faster than “The Red King.”
Cooper submitted French contender Jason Ponet via arm-triangle choke in just 83 seconds, while MacDonald’s rear-naked choke victory over Millender clocked in at 3:38. Also in the win column at 170 pounds was Brazilian Joao Zeferino, who defeated seasoned veteran Gleison Tibau via unanimous decision.
The night also saw the PFL’s light heavyweight season get underway, and 2019 champion Emiliano Sordi made a solid start by defeating veteran Chris Camozzi via unanimous decision.
His performance wasn’t enough to top the 205-pound standings, however, with four other light heavyweights picking up victories on the night.
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Norwegian contender Marthin Hamlet kicked off the night with a second-round arm-triangle choke finish of Dan Spohn, while Antonio Carlos Jr. submitted fellow former UFC veteran Tom Lawlor via first-round guillotine choke.
But those performances were trumped by Brazil’s Cezar Ferreira, who claimed top spot in the 205-pound table with a 37-second knockout of American Nick Roehrick.
The next round of action continues in the PFL’s COVID bubble in Atlantic City on May 6, with the start of the men’s heavyweight and women’s lightweight seasons.
Former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum is scheduled for action, while 2019 women’s lightweight champion and two-time Olympic judo gold medallist Kayla Harrison looks to start her season in a bid to continue her unbeaten record since transitioning to MMA.
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PFL 2021: Welterweight Standings
- Ray Cooper III (USA), 1-0, 6pts
- Rory MacDonald (CAN), 1-0, 6pts
- Joao Zeferino (BRA), 1-0, 3pts
- Nikolai Alksakhin (RUS), 0-0 (1 NC), 1pt
- Sadibou Sy (SWE), 0-0 (1 NC), 1pt
- Gleison Tibau (BRA), 0-1, 0pts
- Curtis Millender (USA), 0-1, 0pts
- Jason Ponet (FRA), 0-1, 0pts
PFL 2021: Light Heavyweight Standings
- Cezar Ferreira (BRA), 1-0, 6pts
- Antonio Carlos Jr. (BRA), 1-0, 6pts
- Marthin Hamlet (NOR), 1-0, 5pts
- Emiliano Sordi (ARG), 1-0, 3pts
- Jordan Young (USA), 1-0, 3pts
- Chris Camozzi (USA), 0-1, 0pts
- Dan Spohn (USA), 0-1, 0pts
- Tom Lawlor (USA), 0-1, 0pts
- Nick Roehrick (USA), 0-1, 0pts
- Vinny Magalhaes (BRA), 0-1, -1pts
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