Canadian Rory (Red King) MacDonald gets a new opponent on the eve of the PFL semi-final

Canadian welterweight Rory (Red King) MacDonald has a new opponent for Saturday’s Professional Fighters League semi-final following Russian Magomed Umalatov’s inability to secure a visa to enter Britain.

MacDonald (23-9-1) and Umalatov (12-0-0) were due to meet in the main event of the PFL playoff card at Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff, Wales, with the winner advancing to the final with the 170 pounds. title and a salary of US$1 million at stake.

But on Thursday, the PFL said Umalatov and fellow Russian heavyweight Denis Goltsov could not enter the country with replacements taking their place on the card.

MacDonald, a 33-year-old BC native fighting in Montreal, will now face American Dilano (The Postman) Taylor, a third-choice replacement. The PFL said the first two replacements, 2018 welterweight champion Magomed Magomedkerimov of Russia and 2019 and 2020 titleholder Ray Cooper III of Hawaii were unable to compete.

American Juan (The Kraken) Adams replaces Goltsov against Brazilian Matheus Scheffel (16-8-0), who defeated 2021 champion and compatriot Bruno Cappelozza at PFL 5 on June 24.

“It’s very unfortunate for these two fighters to battle it out and earn their place in the playoffs,” Ray Sefo, president of PFL fighter operations, said in a statement. “Umalatov and Goltsov were impressive in their regular season fights and were in contention to win the championship. Despite that, we’re delighted to have such a comprehensive roster and we’re excited to see what Dilano Taylor and Juan Adams can do with this great opportunity.”

Taylor (9-2-0) won a split decision over Brazilian Joao Zeferino at PFL 3 on May 6 before losing by second-round TKO to Magomedkerimov at PFL 6 on July 1. Taylor, a former Titan FC promotion champion, started the season as a substitute after stopping Mark (Showtime) Martin in February in the PFL Challenger Series.

Adams was added as a substitute for the second half of the regular season, beating Australian Sam (K9) Kei via second-round TKO at PFL 5.

Swede Sadibou Sy (11-6-2 with a draw) meets Brazilian Carlos (Le Lion) Leal (17-3-0) in the other welterweight semi-final on Saturday.

Sy won a unanimous decision over MacDonald at PFL 6. MacDonald opened his season with a first-round submission win over American Brett (Fudoshin) Copper at PFL 3.

Unlike other MMA promotions, the PFL offers a regular season, playoffs, and championship in six divisions, each with 10 competitors. The four fighters in each weight class who earn the most regular season points advance to the playoffs, with the two semifinal winners meeting for the title and a $1 million payday.

Despite the loss to Sy, MacDonald became the top seed in the welterweight division thanks to the extra points earned in his stoppage victory over Cooper. Umalatov was the fourth seed.

(The Canadian Gangster) Olivier Aubin-Mercier has already qualified for the PFL lightweight final after winning a unanimous decision over Alex Martinez of Paraguay last Friday.

The 33-year-old from Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Que., will face Scotsman Stevie (Braveheart) Ray for the 155-pound title.

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