The 2019 season for the Professional Fighters League continued last night in Atlantic City, N.J., where the featherweight and lightweight men got in their second — and final — fights of the regular season.
The PFL’s season format includes standings that determine which fighters make it to the playoffs. Extra points go to competitors who score finishes. Of course, not every win is equal, nor is every loss. While the playoff qualifiers are now known, we here at Combat Press intend to provide deeper insight to how these fighters looked in an individual fight and how it projects on their progress through the season.
1. Lance Palmer (2-0, 7 pts, No. 1 playoff seed, Previous power ranking: 3): Last season’s champ stole the thunder from Luis Rafael Laurentino, whose first win of the season was a huge finish of Jeremy Kennedy. The Brazilian found a much tougher challenge against Palmer, who used takedowns and top control to neutralize Laurentino for two rounds before battering him with ground strikes for the third-round stoppage.
2. Movlid Khaibulaev (1-0-1, 7 pts, No. 2 playoff seed, Previous power ranking: 1): The 28-year-old Dagestani fighter entered the season with an undefeated record and quickly made it known that he’s a contender with a 10-second finish of Damon Jackson. He almost managed a repeat performance when he landed a flying knee in the first round against Andre Harrison. The round ended before he could polish off the victory, and Harrison turned the tide for the final two frames. Khaibulaev was lucky to escape with only a majority draw.
3. Andre Harrison (1-0-1, 4 pts, No. 5 playoff seed, Previous power ranking: 4): Harrison escaped early trouble against Movlid Khaibulaev, but he couldn’t manage a victory. Harrison is always a tough grinder, but he’s on the same side of the playoff bracket as his nemesis, Lance Palmer.
4. Alex Gilpin (1-1, 6 pts, No. 4 playoff seed, Previous power ranking: 6): Gilpin registered a rather easy submission victory over Freddy Assunção to secure a spot in the postseason. Unfortunately, the 27-year-old, who was already victimized by Lance Palmer, draws Andre Harrison for his first playoff pairing.
5. Luis Rafael Laurentino (1-1, 6 pts, No. 3 playoff seed, Previous power ranking: 2): Well, so much for the Brazilian’s potential to be a true revelation. Laurentino couldn’t repeat the magic he found against Jeremy Kennedy. Instead, he was utterly dominated by Lance Palmer before suffering the TKO loss in the third stanza. His victory over Kennedy keeps Laurentino firmly entrenched in the postseason. His first opponent is Kennedy, so fans will get to see if the initial win was just a fluke.
6. Jeremy Kennedy (1-1, 3 pts, No. 6 playoff seed, Previous power ranking: 8): Kennedy did a great job in recovering from his embarrassing loss to Luis Rafael Laurentino. The former UFC fighter, who joined the PFL after a 3-1 run inside the Octagon, controlled opponent Steven Siler for much of their three-round contest. It wasn’t a night of big offense for Kennedy, but it was enough to secure him a playoff spot and a chance at redemption in a rematch with Laurentino.
7. Daniel Pineda (0-1, 3 pts, No. 7 playoff seed, Previous power ranking: unranked): It’s not Pineda’s fault that Gadzhi Rabadanov couldn’t make weight. Perhaps Rabadanov believed the PFL website, which couldn’t seem to decide whether he was a featherweight or a lightweight. Regardless, Pineda earns a cheap victory and a ticket to the postseason.
8. Gadzhi Rabadanov (1-1, 3 pts, No. 8 playoff seed, Previous power ranking: 5): Rabadanov missed weight for his scheduled bout with Daniel Pineda. He still makes it into the playoffs on the strength of his performance earlier in the season against Steven Siler, but he’s a big question mark for the postseason, where his first task will be to defeat defending champ Lance Palmer.
9. Alexandre Almeida (1-1, 3 pts, No. 9 in the standings, Previous power ranking: 10): Almeida failed to make weight for his first fight of the season, but he checked in on point for his showdown with Peter Petties. He also managed to secure a unanimous verdict in the fight. Unfortunately, the victory wasn’t enough to get the Brazilian into the postseason.
10. Steven Siler (0-2, 0 pts, No. 10 in the standings, Previous power ranking: 7): It’s been a rough year for Siler, who couldn’t repeat his 2018 campaign. Siler, who already had suffered a loss at the hands of Gadzhi Rabadanov, was controlled by Jeremy Kennedy for much of their three-round affair. Siler goes home early this year.
11. Peter Petties (0-2, 0 pts, No. 11 in the standings, Previous power ranking: 11): Petties followed up a lopsided loss to Andre Harrison with another setback against Alexandre Almeida. Petties was clearly the weakest member of the 2019 featherweight field.
12. Freddy Assunção (0-1, 0 pts, No. 12 in the standings, Previous power ranking: unranked): One appearance, one standing guillotine choke for a first-round loss. The Brazilian couldn’t hang with Alex Gilpin and ends his brief run in the 2019 PFL season.
13. Alexandre “Popo” Bezerra (0-0, 0 pts, unranked, Previous power ranking: 9): After missing weight earlier this season, Popo didn’t even return for a second fight with the company.
14. Damon Jackson (0-1, 0 pts, unranked, Previous power ranking: 12): Jackson’s PFL season lasted 10 seconds. Ouch!
1. Natan Schulte (2-0, 9 pts, No. 1 playoff seed, Previous power ranking: 1): The 2018 lightweight champion continued his strong run with the PFL. Schulte was able to use the body lock and forward pressure to negate much of opponent Jesse Ronson’s game. Schulte’s victory puts him at the top of the division once more.
2. Chris Wade (2-0, 6 pts, No. 3 playoff seed, Previous power ranking: 4): After fending off Nate Andrews in his first fight of the season, Wade returned on Thursday night and chopped away at the legs of foe Akhmet Aliev to notch another decision win. Wade will try to repeat his showing against Andrews when the two men meet up in the first round of the playoffs.
3. Nate Andrews (1-1, 3 pts, No. 6 playoff seed, Previous power ranking: 7): Maybe nerves contributed to a tough loss in his first outing of the season, but Andrews certainly redeemed himself with a huge upset of Rashid Magomedov. Andrews is definitely a contender in this group, and he could avenge his prior loss when he meets Chris Wade in the postseason.
4. Akhmet Aliev (1-1, 6 pts, No. 4 playoff seed, Previous power ranking: 2): Chris Wade found the answer to Akhmet Aliev: leg kicks. Aliev, who entered the bout after an impressive showing against Carlao Silva earlier in the season, couldn’t land his overhand right with any precision. He’s still a strong member of the playoff bracket, but Wade cut him down to size.
5. Rashid Magomedov (1-1, 3 pts, No. 5 playoff seed, Previous power ranking: 3): Well, that didn’t go as planned. Magomedov, the runner-up in 2018, suffered a surprising loss to Nate Andrews in what was ultimately a very close fight. The Russian did score takedowns and kept the second and third rounds close, but his slow start cost him. He draws Aliev first in the playoffs, which is an interesting fight for both men.
6. Islam Mamedov (2-0, 9 pts, No. 2 playoff seed, Previous power ranking: 5): The Russian is still undefeated under the PFL banner. It always helps to draw an opponent like Yincang Bao, though. Mamedov, as could be expected, was far too much for his Chinese counterpart to handle. He overwhelmed Bao with strikes for a first-round stoppage.
7. Loik Radzhabov (1-1, 3 pts, No. 7 playoff seed, Previous power ranking: 9): After the 28-year-old lasted three rounds with Rashid Magomedov, we expected more out of him than a razor-thin decision against Ylies Djiroun. He might be easy pickings for Islam Mamedov in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs.
8. Ylies Djiroun (0-2, 0 pts, No. 9 in standings, Previous power ranking: 6): The French journeyman couldn’t find victory in the 2019 season, but he sure didn’t make it easy on either of his opponents. Djiroun again fought to a split decision, this time with Loik Radzhabov.
9. Jesse Ronson (0-1, 0 pts, No. 11 in standings, Previous power ranking: unranked): Ronson’s late entry into the field definitely hurt his chances at a postseason berth. The Canadian fighter couldn’t find an answer to 2018 champ Natan Schulte and fell on the scorecards.
10. Ramsey Nijem (1-1, 3 pts, No. 8 playoff seed, Previous power ranking: 8): Nijem has yet to make it to the cage in his 2019 PFL campaign. His first win came when his opponent wasn’t medically cleared, and his loss on Thursday came after he missed weight at the scales. Somehow, though, Nijem is in the postseason. Yeah, this is kind of silly.
11. Yincang Bao (0-2, 0 pts, No. 10 in standings, Previous power ranking: 11): The Chinese fighter proved to have very little to offer when paired with Natan Schulte and Islam Mamedov.
12. Carlao Silva (0-2, 0 pts, No. 12 in standings, Previous power ranking: 10): The Shooto Brazil lightweight champ ran into a freight train against Akhmet Aliev, but his failure to make weight for a scheduled showdown with Jesse Ronson is far more embarrassing.
13. Ronys Torres (0-1, 0 pts, unranked, Previous power ranking: 12): The Brazilian was removed from the competition earlier this year after failing to make weight. He is scheduled to compete this weekend for Shooto Brazil.