PFL 6 Report: Kayla Harrison remains undefeated, stops Kaitlin Young in the first round
By: Eric Marcotte
On Friday night, the PFL held the final card of their regular season from the Overtime Elite Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. This card consisted of fighters in the welterweight and women’s lightweight divisions, with this being the last opportunity for these fighters to qualify for their division’s respective brackets. The main event featured a lightweight bout between the undefeated Kayla Harrison and Kaitlin Young, who took this fight on short notice after Harrison’s originally scheduled opponent, Julia Budd, was forced to withdraw from the bout. In the co-main event, former Bellator Welterweight Champion, Rory MacDonald, was matched up against Sadibou Sy, who would need a win against MacDonald here in order to qualify for the division’s playoff bracket. The commentary team for this event consisted of Sean O’Connell, Kenny Florian, and Randy Couture.
To quickly recap the PFL’s “league” structure: The PFL implements a unique scoring system. A win earns you three points, and you have the opportunity to gain bonus points depending on the way in which you win the fight. If a fighter were to get a finish in the first round, they would earn a total of three bonus points (resulting in a grand total of six points from that win). A second-round finish would earn a total of five points, a third-round finish would result in a total of four points, and a decision win would simply award the standard three. A draw or a no-contest results in one point gained for each fighter. The four fighters from each division with the most points accumulated throughout the season will earn spots in their division’s playoff bracket, and the fighter that emerges victorious in each division’s bracket earns a million-dollar prize.
*Olena Kolesnyk def. Vanessa Melo by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Martina Jindrova def. Zamzagul Fayzallanova by TKO at 4:04 of Round 1
*Marina Mokhnatkina def. Abigail Montes by split decision (30-27, 30-27, 27-30)
*Magomed Umalatov def. Jarrah Al-Silawi by KO at 3:33 of Round 1
*Larissa Pacheco def. Genah Fabian by TKO at 2:39 of Round 1
*Magomed Magomedkerimov def. Dilano Taylor by TKO at 3:26 of Round 2
*Ray Cooper III def. Brett Cooper by TKO at 0:24 of Round 1
*Sadibou Sy def. Rory MacDonald by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
*Kayla Harrison def. Kaitlin Young by TKO at 2:35 of Round 1
JARRAH AL-SILAWI (18-3, 170.4, 3 PTS) VS MAGOMED UMALATOV (11-0, 170.4, 0 PTS) – WELTERWEIGHT
Umalatov was slightly more active than Al-Silawi early in the fight, but not by much. Umalatov dug into the body with a hard knee at one point, forcing Al-Silawi to abandon an attempt to engage Umalatov in the clinch. A backfist from Umalatov rocked Al-Silawi, and he immediately surged forward, where he knocked Al-Silawi unconscious with a right hook.
WINNER: Magomed Umalatov by KO at 3:33 of Round 1 (6 PTS)
This was the exact result that Umalatov needed. This was his only fight of the 2022 PFL season, so he needed a quick knockout to keep his playoff hopes alive, and he did it in spectacular fashion here. This was an absolutely brutal knockout, and it came after a short-standing backfist rocked Al-Silawi, which really illustrates his power. Later in the night, Ray Cooper III would stop Brett Cooper in the first round, and thus, Umalatov’s spot in the playoff bracket was secured. Umalatov improved to 12-0 professionally following this win, and this marked his tenth win by knockout.
LARISSA PACHECO (16-4, 154.6, 6 PTS) VS GENAH FABIAN (5-2, 156, -1 PTS) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Pacheco immediately rocked Fabian with a quick combination, and took top position on the ground after Fabian attempted a desperation takedown. Pacheco went after an arm triangle, but her positioning was a bit off, and Fabian was able to escape the submission. Ultimately, Pacheco postured up and threw down strikes until the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Larissa Pacheco by TKO at 2:39 of Round 1 (6 PTS)
If it wasn’t for Kayla Harrison (and a weight miss in the playoffs last year), Pacheco would be a multiple-time champion of the PFL women’s lightweight division. With 12 total points accumulated throughout the season, Pacheco will once again end the season as the top seed in the women’s lightweight division. She has a clear advantage in punching power over every other fighter in the division and is strong enough on the ground to beat almost all of her opponents there as well. Kayla Harrison has been her kryptonite so to speak (she is 0-2 against Harrison, both decision losses), but there is a strong chance that Pacheco will get one more shot at dethroning Harrison in the playoff portion of this season.
MAGOMED MAGOMEDKERIMOV (28-6, 170.8, 0 PTS) VS DILANO TAYLOR (10-6, 170.8, 3 PTS) – WELTERWEIGHT
Neither fighter was terribly active throughout the vast majority of the round. Taylor was doing a good job of defending Magomedkerimov’s attempts at bringing the fight into the clinch throughout the round, but with roughly a minute remaining, Magomedkerimov was able to secure a takedown. Taylor got to his feet late in the round, but he ate some hard ground and pound shots in the process and was promptly taken back down.
Magomedkerimov was in need of a second-round finish here in order to keep his playoff hopes alive. Magomedkerimov connected with a lightning-fast right hand early in the round, but Taylor took the shot well. Magomedkerimov rocked him with his next big shot, however, and this time he didn’t let up. Magomedkerimov continued to pressure forward, and just picked his staggered opponent apart. That right hand of his continued to find a home, and Magomedkerimov rocked and dropped Taylor numerous times throughout this sequence. Eventually, the referee had seen enough and stopped the fight as Taylor attempted to defend himself against the cage.
WINNER: Magomed Magomedkerimov by TKO at 3:26 of Round 2 (5 PTS)
Magomedkerimov needed a finish before the third round in order to keep his playoff hopes alive, and he was able to secure that with his second-round finish of Dilano Taylor here. It was a slow-paced fight, but still a solid performance from Magomedkerimov, who had not fought since his knockout loss in last year’s PFL welterweight finals matchup against Ray Cooper III. By the end of the night, Magomedkerimov would be eliminated from the playoff contention, due to Sadibou Sy’s win over Rory MacDonald.
RAY COOPER III (24-8-1, 170.4, -1 PTS) VS BRETT COOPER (28-16, 170.4, 0 PTS) – WELTERWEIGHT
Ray Cooper III immediately stormed to the other side of the cage, where he just started swinging for the fences. He tagged Brett Cooper repeatedly, and it was clear that Brett was hurt, seemingly from a left hook that Ray landed. Brett Cooper attempted to cover up, but Ray Cooper just kept swinging, and eventually, Brett went down, and the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Ray Cooper III by TKO at 0:24 of Round 1 (6 PTS)
While this was a tremendous performance from Ray Cooper III, it was a slightly strange atmosphere, as just moments prior, Cooper III had been eliminated from playoff contention due to Magomed Magomedkerimov’s stoppage victory over Dilano Taylor. It was certainly an anti-climatic ending to the season for the two-time PFL Welterweight Champion, but this was a strong performance nonetheless, and a great way to bounce back after losing his last bout (a fight that he drastically missed weight in).
RORY MACDONALD (23-8-1, 170.8, 6 PTS) VS SADIBOU SY (10-6-2, 1 NC, 170.2, 3 PTS) – WELTERWEIGHT
MacDonald shot for a single leg in the opening seconds of the bout, as he attempted to drag Sy to the ground. Sy successfully defended the attempt, and MacDonald attempted to pull guard on him in response. Sy did not engage MacDonald on the ground, and MacDonald was cut on the right side of his face during the exchange. Eventually, a knee from MacDonald landed low, and the fighters were separated. MacDonald continued to chase takedowns throughout the round, but Sy was able to keep the fight on the feet and worked his jab whenever the fighters were separated. MacDonald landed a body kick before tagging Sy with a quick combination of punches. Close round. 10-9 Sy.
MacDonald brought Sy back to the cage early in the second round. There was not much activity from either man, as MacDonald was unable to take Sy down, and Sy was unable to create any separation. With roughly two minutes remaining in the round, the fighters separated, and Sy continued to work his jab as MacDonald attempted to catch him with kicks. Eventually, MacDonald opted to press Sy back against the cage, and he held him there for the remainder of what was another uneventful round. 19-19.
MacDonald began the third round with a right hand, before shooting for yet another unsuccessful takedown. At one point, Sy decided to start wrestling, pressing MacDonald up against the cage, and this did not result in much success for him. MacDonald took back control of the position, landing a solid knee to the head at one point. With two minutes to go in the round, Sy succeeded in taking MacDonald down, but MacDonald popped right back to his feet, where he immediately landed another knee to the groin. Sy was given time to recover, and when the action resumed, they returned to their battle against the cage. Mercifully, this fight eventually ended. 29-28 Sy.
WINNER: Sadibou Sy by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) (3 PTS)
This fight was one of the least entertaining fights of the PFL season. MacDonald pressed Sy against the cage for the better part of fifteen minutes as he attempted to take Sy down, but Sy’s defense held up, and he arguably landed the better strikes whenever the fighters were separated. Regardless of the fight’s quality, Sy secured a playoff spot with this win, knocking Magomed Magomedkerimov out of the bracket in the process. As this was the final welterweight bout of the regular season, the brackets were finalized following this contest. MacDonald remains the top-seeded fighter in the division, and he will face Magomed Umalatov in the opening round. Sy claimed the second seed in the division following this win, and he will be matched up against the third-seeded Carlos Leal.
KAYLA HARRISON (13-0, 155.6, 3 PTS) VS KAITLIN YOUNG (12-12-1, 155, 0 PTS) – LIGHTWEIGHT
The live odds displayed on the broadcast had Harrison as a minus ten thousand favorite going into this fight, and she made good on those odds quickly, taking Young to the ground roughly a minute into the round. Harrison worked her way to the back of Young, where she landed numerous right hands after flattening Young out. Eventually, referee Rob Hinds opted to stop the fight, despite Young’s protests.
WINNER: Kayla Harrison by TKO at 2:35 of Round 1 (6 PTS)
Young was upset with the stoppage, and honestly, I did think the fight was stopped a bit quickly here. That being said, I’m not sure that Young would have been able to escape the position, and she likely escaped unnecessary damage here. Harrison maintained her undefeated record with this win, and she’s yet to have a competitive bout. This marked the final fight of the 2022 PFL regular season, and Harrison officially clinched the second seed in the women’s lightweight division with this win. She will face Martina Jindrova in the opening round of the tournament, and the first-seeded Larissa Pacheco will face the division’s fourth seed, Olena Kolesnyk