Canadian Rory MacDonald advances to PFL playoffs despite losing to Sweden’s Sy

ATLANTA — Canadian welterweight Rory (The Red King) MacDonald is heading to the Professional Fighters League playoffs despite losing by decision to Sadibou (The Swedish Denzel) Sy at PFL 6.

The judges scored Friday night’s fight at Overtime Elite Arena 30-27, 30-27, 29-28 for Sy (11-6-2 with a no-contest).

The bigger Sy was able to fend off MacDonald’s takedown attempts and use his movement to score with punches from distance.

« Getting ready for this guy, I swear I woke up in the middle of the night and I was like, ‘Damn, I’m facing Rory,' » Sy said after the decision. « He made me better: »

MacDonald (23-9-1) has lost three of its last four outings and is 3-5-2 in its last eight.

Unlike other MMA promotions, the Professional Fighters League offers a regular season, playoffs, and championship. The four fighters from each division who earn the most points in the regular season advance to the playoffs with the two semi-final winners meeting for the PFL title and a $1 million salary.

Despite Friday’s loss, MacDonald enters the playoffs as the top seed in the 170-pound division and will face No. 4 (Prince) Magomed Umalatov of Russia, who beat (The Jordanian Lion) Jarrah Al Silawi via TKO in the first round.

Sy, who clinched the second playoff seeding, will face No. 3 Carlos Leal of Brazil. The four semi-finalists finished with six points.

Friday’s PFL 6 main event saw two-time Olympic champion judoka Kayla Harrison stop fellow American Kaitlin (The Striking Viking) Young by first-round TKO. Harrison (14-0-0) is after a third straight PFL lightweight title. Young (12-13-1) took the fight on two weeks notice.

MacDonald, a former Bellator champion and UFC contender, made short work of American Brett (Fudoshin) Cooper in May in his season opener, winning by first-round submission. Sy started with a decisive victory over Russian Nikolai Aleksakhin.

MacDonald, a native of British Columbia who now lives in Montreal, had three points for May’s victory and three more for the first round. Sy collected three points for each of his wins.

Hawaii’s Ray Cooper III, who won the welterweight title last year, rebounded from a loss last time out to record a first-round TKO win over Brett Cooper on Friday. But Cooper, sixth in the welterweight standings with five points, misses the playoffs.

Russia’s Magomed Magomedkerimov, the 2019 welterweight champion, also missed the playoffs by five points despite American Dilano (The Postman) Taylor’s victory by TKO in the second round.

The PFL post-season events are scheduled for August 5 in New York, August 13 in Cardiff, Wales and August 20 in London.

MacDonald joined the PFL in December 2019 but had to wait until last year to make his debut after the 2020 season was wiped out by the pandemic.

At six-foot-three, the 35-year-old Sy (pronounced « see ») stood three inches tall and four inches in reach over MacDonald, who was favored by the bookmakers.

MacDonald tried for early takedowns, but was turned down by the lanky Sy. The fight was briefly cut short in the first round for an inadvertent MacDonald knee to Sy’s groin. When the action resumed, the Swede stayed on the outside, landing a jab.

MacDonald, 32, suffered a gash to his right cheek in the first round, unsuccessfully trying for another takedown.

MacDonald continued to look for a second-round takedown with the fighters clinging to the fence.

The Canadian came out with a goal in the third round, connecting with a few strikes but was unable to put Sy down.

Sy knocked MacDonald down via a leg trip with two minutes remaining. MacDonald got up quickly and the fight was broken up for another strike to the groin from MacDonald as the two clung to the fence.

Referee Blake Grice warned MacDonald. « Don’t do it again, » he said.

According to PFL stats, Sy had 62 of 85 strikes to MacDonald’s 35 of 70.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 2, 2022

The Canadian Press


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