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The defending PFL featherweight and lightweight season champions, respectively, punched their tickets to the $ 1M finals at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 31 by each winning a pair of fights on Thursday at the PFL 2019: Playoffs 2 card at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
When New Year’s Eve rolls around, they’ll meet, respectively, a pair of seventh-seeded upstarts in Daniel Pineda and Loik Radzhabov, each of whom went on impressive upset runs Thursday night.
Defending champ Palmer, upstart Pineda make featherweight finals
Palmer (21-3) put in a full five rounds over the course of the evening to earn his return to the million-dollar finals. In the quarterfinals, he put on a two-round clinic in earning a unanimous decision over Alexandre Almeida. Palmer outstruck his foe 94-2 as he earned across-the-board scores of 20-18 for the victory.
In the semis, the former WSOF champion had a tough out in plucky Alex Gilpin. Gilpin, who handed Andre Harrison his first career stoppage loss with a second-round submission in the quarters, pushed the pace in the first half of the fight. Palmer rallied in the fight’s second half, and seeming concerned how the scores may go, he really poured it on from top position in the final round.
Turned out he needn’t have worried, as the judges saw it 30-27 across the board, although the fight was more competitive than that score sounds.
“It’s awesome to be back in the finals again,” said Palmer, who has won 10 straight fights. “I went against a great opponent in Alex Gilpin, I fought him twice this season and he’s one of the toughest guys I’ve fought this season. Nothing but respect for him.”
He’ll take on the surprise of the PFL postseason thus far in Pineda (28-13), a seventh-seeded competitor making his PFL debut who finished both of his foes in the first round. Pineda TKO’d Movlid Khaybulaev in just 29 seconds in the quarterfinals, then used a guillotine choke to stop Jeremy Kennedy in an even four minutes to punch is ticket to New York.
“Nobody showed me no respect,” said Pineda, who has all 28 of his career victories by way of a finish. “They said I was done in the first fight. I’m here.”
Schulte takes two submissions to reach finals, Radzhabov grinds his way there
While Palmer put in a hard 25 minutes to get to the finals, Brazil’s Schulte (19-3-1) needed less than nine minutes combined to earn his return to the championship round.
Schulte’s quarterfinal bout with Ramsey Nijem was as frantic a 52-second fight as you’ll ever see. Nijem, whose weight cut Thursday was so harsh he had to cut his hair to lose his final ounces and hit his mark, got his foe into a tight choke. But Schule escaped and soon thereafter trapped Nijem in a rear-naked choke for the victory.
In the finals, he met Aliev, who earned a unanimous decision over Rashid Magomedov in the quarterfinals. Aliev gave Schulte plenty of trouble, particularly in the clinch, and he outstruck Schutle 68-25 over the course of the fight.
But in the second, Schulte made a smooth transition from a successful hiptoss to side control to a sweet arm-triangle form mount, and Aliev went out rather than tap out, giving Schulte his ninth career submission win and second of the evening.
“Believe in your dreams, trust in God’s plan for you,” Schulte said through an interpreter. “He knows everything. I feel so blessed right now.”
Schulte will meet Loik Radzhabov, who grinded his way to a pair of grueling victories, in the Dec. 31 finals. In the quarters, Radzhabov’s fight with Islam Mamodev was as even as two rounds can possibly be. The judges scored a 20-18 for Radzhabov and a pair of 19-19s. For the tiebreaker, the judges declare an overall winner PRIDE-style, and Radzhabov got the nod from all three judges.
For the semifinal bout with Chris Wade, the duo had the shortest rest period of any of the semfinals and it fast turned into a battle of attrition. Wade had his moments, but Radzhabov simply had more in the tank, outgrappling Wade and outstriking him 104-45.
“I’m ready to go for the million, I represent my nation, I represent my roots, and I’m going to go get it,” Radzhabov said through an interpreter.
- Loik Radzhabov def. Chris Wade via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) — lightweight semifinal
- Natan Schulte def. Akhmed Aliev via technical submission (arm-triangle choke) — Round 2, 2:26, lightweight semifinal
- Daniel Pineda def. Jeremy Kennedy via submission (guillotine choke) — Round 1, 4:00 featherweight semifinal
- Chris Wade def. Nate Andrews via majority decision (19-19, 20-18, 20-18) — lightweight quarterfinal
- Loik Radzhabov def. Islam Mamedov via judges’ tiebreaker after majority draw (20-18, 19-19, 19-19) — lightweight quarterfinal
- Akhmed Aliev def. Rashid Magomedov via unanimous decision (20-18, 20-18, 20-18 — lightweight quarterfinal
- Lance Palmer def. Alex Gilpin via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)— featherweight semifinal
- Natan Schulte def. Ramsey Nijem via submission (rear-naked choke) — Round 1, 0:52, lightweight quarterfinal
- Jeremy Kennedy def. Luis Rafael Laurentino via TKO (punches) — Round 2, 1:25, featherweight quarterfinal
- Daniel Pineda def. Movlid Khaybulaev via KO (punches) — Round 1, 0:29, featherweight quarterfinal
- Alex Gilpin def. Andre Harrison via technical submission (guillotine choke) — Round 2, 1:49, featherweight quarterfinal
- Lance Palmer def. Alexandre Almeida via unanimous decision (20-17, 20-18, 20-18) — featherweight quarterfinal
News | MMA Junkie