Kayla Harrison tops 2019 PFL World Championship fight card on New Year’s Eve

The Professional Fighters League (PFL), the first organization ever to present MMA through a Regular Season, Playoffs and Championship format, continues its tradition of holding its season ending World Championship event at Madison Square Garden on New Year’s Eve. Before the ball drops in Times Square, six belts will be raised and six millionaires made. PFL recently unveiled the official card of the six-title fight event.

“We look forward to closing out 2019 with the biggest night in MMA and ushering in the new year with six new million-dollar champions,” said PFL CEO Peter Murray. “The PFL Championship is a must-see event. These 12 fighters earned their way here by advancing through the regular season and surviving a fight twice in one night playoff. Fans in New York at MSG and those tuned in on ESPN2 will see the best fighters competing on what will truly be a memorable and historic night.”   

Women’s Lightweight Championship

Kayla Harrison vs. Larissa Pacheco
Concluding the 2019 PFL World Championship is a battle for the first-ever women’s lightweight world title. Two-time Olympic judo gold medalist and MMA star Kayla Harrison looks to earn her first belt and remain undefeated in her MMA career (6-0). To do so, she’ll have to beat the only woman to have taken her a full three rounds inside the cage, Brazil’s Larissa Pacheco.  

Welterweight Championship

David Michaud vs. Ray Cooper III
Hands will fly in a welterweight clash between Ray Cooper III and David Michaud. Last season Cooper was defeated by 2nd round submission in the Championship bout by Magomed Magomedkerimov. The heavy-hitting Hawaiian has punched his way to New Year’s Eve with an epic knockout of Chris Curtis in the semifinals. Michaud earned two bloody hard-fought wins in the playoffs to advance. 

Heavyweight Championship

Ali Isaev vs. Jared Rosholt
Two elite wrestlers face off for the heavyweight title. Veteran Jared Rosholt remains the winningest heavyweight in Oklahoma State University’s storied wrestling history. Ali Isaev was a 2008 Olympian in freestyle wrestling representing Azerbaijan (he now fights for his home nation of Russia). Isaev upset the #1 seed Denis Goltsov with 1 second left in the semifinals by TKO. Rosholt scored two upsets in the playoffs to make the final. 

Lightweight Championship

Natan Schulte vs. Loik Radzhabov
Natan Schulte looks to repeat as PFL’s lightweight champion. Schulte enters the championship as the #1 seed, coming off two impressive early finish victories in the playoffs. He’ll face underdog Loik Radzhabov, who shocked the bottom half of the playoff bracket as the #7 seed with impressive, emphatic victories. 

Featherweight Championship

Lance Palmer vs. Alex Gilpin
Lance “The Party” Palmer fights for a second straight featherweight title in a trilogy fight with submission specialist Alex Gilpin. Palmer has won 10 straight fights overall and is 9-0 in the PFL, with a second straight perfect season now within reach. Gilpin, the former University of Wisconsin wrestler, had two impressive submission wins this season, including a second-round ninja choke against Andre Harrison, making him the first fighter ever to finish “The Bull.”

Gilpin enters this championship as an alternate after Palmer’s original opponent Daniel Pineda became ineligible. The former Badger has been preparing for this bout since being named as the alternate following the playoffs. He will be looking for redemption after dropping two decisions to Palmer during the 2019 season and with $1 million on the line the stakes could not be higher for these former Big Ten wrestlers.

PFL Statement on Daniel Pineda:
“The Nevada Athletic Commission has extended its temporary suspension of Daniel Pineda until January 2020, making him ineligible to compete in the PFL 2019 Championship on New Year’s Eve. Alex Gilpin, as the alternate, will instead have the chance to fight Lance Palmer for the Featherweight Championship.”

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Light Heavyweight Championship

Emiliano Sordi vs. Jordan Johnson
The opening championship match will see a new light heavyweight champion crowned. World-class striker Emiliano Sordi will face former University of Iowa wrestler Jordan Johnson. Argentina’s “He Man” Sordi has won all four fights this season by stoppage (3 knockouts, 1 submission). His last three wins all came in the first round. Johnson entered the PFL at 10-0, including a 4-0 run with the UFC, but suffered his first career loss in his PFL debut against Maxim Grishin. He avenged that loss in the playoffs and is now one win away from the million dollars.

2019 PFL World Championship start time and broadcast details

The championship action begins at 7:00 pm ET on ESPN2. ESPN+ will stream the exclusive PFL Championship Pre-Show at 6:00pm ET, featuring Brendan Loughnane’s second PFL fight since joining the league. Loughnane will take on David Valente, fighting out of Brazil. Loughnane will compete in the PFL 2020 season as a featherweight, where he’s expected to be in the running for the title and million-dollar prize.