It’s playoff time in MMA as after a canceled 2020 season due to COVID-19, a successful regular season for the Professional Fighters League, the only postseason in the sport returns with the PFL semifinals these next three weeks, beginning with PFL 7 and the PFL Welterweight Playoffs– including this semifinal at 170 lbs. between No. 4 seed Magomed Magomedkerimov (27-5, 1-1 2021 PFL) and No. 5 seed Sadibou Sy (9-5-2 MMA, 1-0, 1 NC 2021 PFL).
Originally, Magomedkerimov was scheduled to fight No. 1 seed Joao Zeferino (26-9 MMA, 2-0 2021 PFL) in Friday night’s co-headlining bout. Unfortunately, he was forced out of the postseason with an injury, being the second time in his PFL career that his season ended prematurely because of injury. Thus, the next-highest qualifier outside of the top four seeds (in this case, Sadibou Sy) gets booked as a playoff alternate to battle Magomedkerimov this weekend.
Welterweight Semifinal Fighter Comparison
Heading into the welterweight semifinal, Sy is the taller man, standing 6-foot-3, compared to Magomedkerimov’s 6-foot-1 frame. Additionally, Sy holds a seven-inch reach (80 inches to 73 inches) and a five-inch leg reach advantage (47 inches to 42 inches) advantage over Magomedkerimov going into this fight.
Magomed Magomedkerimov Looks to Ride Momentum of Win Streak Into Playoffs
Magomedkerimov comes into these 2021 PFL Playoffs having gone 5-0 in his last five MMA appearances, including a first-round submission due to Ezekiel choke over Curtis Millender’s last time out during PFL 5 less than two months ago on June 17.
In a recent interview with the Real Talk with Kelsey and Rachel web series, Magomedkerimov expressed his readiness to get back inside the PFL cage and begin his quest toward this year’s PFL Welterweight Championship and the $1 million (USD) prize, saying:
“I feel good. I’m ready. I’m the next champion.”
During the 2019 season, Magomedkerimov was sidelined due to an injury, and Ray Cooper III took the championship.
In that same interview, when asked if he thought Cooper was the true champion, Magomedkerimov answered humbly by saying:
Sadibou Sy Looks to Make The Most of Last Minute Rebooking
In the other corner, Sy has posted a record of 2-1-1 with one NC in his last five MMA appearances, most recently besting Alexsei Kunchenko (unanimous decision) during PFL 5 on June 17.
After his fight, Sy spoke to Sean O’Connell, summing up his victory this way:
“First and foremost, I want to apologize for the last time I spoke with you. I did not look like a champion. I looked like I lost the fight. That wasn’t the case. Today, we got victorious. We got the W. I almost put him away in the second round. Unfortunately, I did not. I got the win. I got the three points.”
Only time will tell whether or not he’s able to make the most of his new opportunity.
Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction
Stylistically, this contest looks to favor Magomed Magomedkerimov, who subscribes to Pankration and freestyle wrestling, with Sadibou Sy being a kickboxer.
Look for Sy’s Kicking Game to Tell the Story in PFL Welterweight Semifinal
If one looks back at the tape of Sadibou Sy’s recent fight against Kunchenko, he was able to effectively wear him down on the feet, throwing kick/punch combos throughout the first round, but it was in round two that he was able to bust the fight wide open.
During the second round, Sy was able to mix up his leg kicks with jabs, putting Kunchenko down with a vicious right-handed punch, followed by an equally nasty left hand, almost finishing him off for good with ground and pound shots before Kunchenko was able to get back to the feet.
If Sy can mix up his punches and kicks, he could find themselves in the $1 million finals.
Watch Out For Magomedkerimov’s Grappling
In the other corner, expect Magomedkerimov’s grappling prowess to be on full display here, just as it was against Millender back in June. That night, Magomedkerimov wasted very little time in the office, reversing a jumping knee attempt from Millender to dump him to the mat and take top position. From there, he was able to advance on this takedown and finally secured that Ezekiel choke to put Millender to sleep and out of the playoffs.
If Magomedkerimov can dump Sy as little as once, it could be lights out early.
Expect a full-on battle in this one, and don’t even think about missing it.
Prediction: Magomed Magomedkerimov by First Round TKO.
Featured Image Credits to Professional Fighters League