Ray Cooper III vs. Rory MacDonald
The PFL playoffs kick off on Thursday and it’s worth checking out all the action.
The PFL also returns Friday night with the first week of the playoffs. Lightweights and welterweights are the star attractions, as Rory MacDonald will look to bounce back from a controversial bitter loss to Gleison Tibau in June, in which he was on the wrong side of a split decision loss. The fight was MacDonald’s first under the PFL banner, as he had previously beaten Curtis Millender by rear choke in the first round on his promotional debut.
MacDonald previously held the Bellator welterweight championship before signing with the PFL, and now he will be looking to regroup in his first playoff fight with defending 2019 champion Ray Cooper III. Due to the ongoing global pandemic, there was no seasonal tournament in 2020 as the PFL took a one-year hiatus.
Despite that, here are three reasons to connect with all the craziness of the playoffs.
1. Rory MacDonald Seeks To Add To His Continuing Legacy
MacDonald is one of the best welterweights the sport has to offer. He’s had a long and extensive run in the UFC that saw him make his debut in his seventh professional MMA fight. During his stint with the promotion, MacDonald beat Nate Diaz, BJ Penn and Jake Ellenberger on his way to the top of the welterweight division. He ended up losing an instant classic welterweight title fight to Robbie Lawler in which he almost became a champion. Since the loss, MacDonald is just 4-4-1 in his last nine appearances, but has a chance to add another belt to his collection by the end of the year.
2. Clay Collard’s Upset Tour
Clay Collard has gone from being a relatively unknown fighter to a household name with an upset signature. In April, he dominated former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis to move closer to a playoff spot. In June, Collard would put his plan into action and now find himself in the PFL playoffs for the first time in his career. Collard has 20-8-1, as he will face Raush Manfio in the second fight on the main map. If Collard manages to secure three consecutive victories, he will find himself facing the winner of Loik Radzhabov and Alex Martinez in the final of the tournament.
3. Four UFC Veterans Honor PFL Prelims
Although the PFL is a relatively new concept, there is still some familiarity among die-hard MMA fans. On the undercard, four UFC veterans at different stages of their careers end up in the PFL. Tibau vs. Millender and Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Darrell Horcher are crossroads fights that should produce some exciting action leading up to the main card festivities. Both fights will air on ESPN + in the US, starting at 5:30 p.m. ET / 2:30 p.m. PT.