On New Years Eve, in front of a jampacked crowd at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, the Professional Fighters League (PFL) crowned inaugural champions in the welterweight, heavyweight, light heavyweight, lightweight, featherweight and middleweight divisions at the 2018 Championship. Each PFL winner claimed their respective titles after a two-month playoff, earning a $1M prize.
“We are thrilled to have six deserving champions earn their titles and an unprecedented $1M in front of a great New York crowd on New Years’ Eve,” said League President Carlos Silva. “Each of them fought their way through the grueling playoff system to come out as champions in their respective brackets. We’re looking forward to what 2019 holds as our inaugural season proved that the PFL’s unique format works and promotes enticing matchups culminating in one champion.”
Chicago native and 2-seed Louis Taylor scored the first victory of the night via TKO against 1-seed Abus Magomedov with a vicious left hook, 33 seconds into the first round to claim the middleweight title.
2-seed Lance Palmer remained undefeated during the 2018 PFL season and took home the featherweight crown by defeating fellow American and 1-seed Steven Siler by unanimous decision (50-45, 50-43, 49-46).
In a thrilling bout, Brazilian Natan Schulte became the first No. 1-seed to win his weight class, outlasting Russian Rashid Magomedov by unanimous decision (48-46, 48-46, 48-46) to win the lightweight title.
6-seed American Sean O’Connell scored the biggest upset of the night, shocking 1-seed Vinny Magalhaes by TKO (corner stoppage) after the third round. After claiming the PFL light heavyweight title and $1M prize, O’Connell announced his retirement from fighting.
Brazilian Philipe Lins finished the 2018 PFL season unbeaten by dominating Josh Copeland to claim the heavyweight crown. Lins won via TKO (referee stoppage) at 33 seconds of the fourth round.
To cap off the night, Russian Magomed Magomedkerimov upset 1-seed Ray Cooper by submission (guillotine choke) at 2:18 of the second round to claim the welterweight crown.
“This was a great night for the PFL and the sport of MMA,” said PFL President of Fighting Operations Ray Sefo. “Our six champions earned everything they got tonight. They worked hard all year long and I am happy for them and even more excited to get started on the 2019 season.”
To round out the exhilarating evening of Championship fights, two-time Olympic judo gold medalist Kayla Harrison remained undefeated in her MMA career by defeating Moriel Charneski by TKO (referee stoppage) at 3:39 of the first round of a special featured fight.
What was your favorite moment of this debut PFL season?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 1/1/2019.
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