Fight Facts is a breakdown of all the interesting information and Octagon oddities on every card, with some puns, references and portmanteaus to keep things fun. These deep stat dives delve into the numbers, providing historical context and telling the stories behind those numbers.
Taking its first trip to the state of Illinois, the Professional Fighters League on Thursday brought a stacked card to Chicago. PFL 2: 2018 Regular Season consisted of lightweights and light heavyweights and featured the most stoppages in any World Series of Fighting-PFL event, a few more massive betting upsets and high drama and controversy at 155 pounds.
TOTAL NUMBER OF PFL EVENTS: 40
CHECK THE SCOREBOARD: After the dust settled, Robert Watley currently holds the top spot alone on the lightweight leaderboard, earning five points for his controversial TKO victory. At light heavyweight, both Maxim Grishin and Vinny Magalhaes picked up first-round finishes to earn six points apiece.
ELECTRIC MAYHEM: With 10 stoppages in 13 fights, PFL 2 featured the most stoppages at a single event in company history, breaking the previous record of nine held by WSOF 21 and WSOF 25.
A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS: On four separate occasions, the Illinois commission that governs MMA made controversial decisions that impacted both the lightweight and light heavyweight tournaments. Between Watley’s accidental groin kick TKO victory, the two stoppages between rounds that took a point from both Rakim Cleveland and Brandon Halsey and the early stoppage in the bout between Jason High and Efrain Escudero, the commission made its presence known early and often.
TEAR UP YOUR SLIPS: Three fighters at PFL 2 closed on the betting lines as sizeable underdogs above +450, and two of them sprang huge upsets. Cleveland came in as a huge +500 underdog against the massive undefeated favorite Rashid Yusupov (-900) and prevailed. Former UFC fighter Chris Wade also entered as a -750 favorite and was upset by Natan Schulte (+450). Islam Mamedov, an overwhelming -1050 favorite, did manage to beat Yuki Kawana (-550).
CALLING DR. LOVE: For the first time in PFL history, multiple fights were stopped between rounds at an event, as both Yusupov and Smealinho Rama could not answer the bell for the third round in their respective bouts.
YOU AREN’T PAID HOURLY: For the 14th time in his career, Will Brooks fought into the third round; and by beating Luiz Firmino by decision he picked up his 10th decision win. Brooks has fought beyond the second round in over 60 percent of his fights, with eight of his last nine wins coming by decision.
CRESCENDO OF CREATIVE CARNAGE: Celebrating his 28th career win with a wild finish consisting of a spinning back kick, flying knee and ground-and-pound, Brian Foster has finished his opponent in 27 of those victories. His bout with Ramsey Nijem marked only the fifth time in his 38-fight career that he fought into the third round, and his finish was just the fourth by flying knee in PFL history.
DISARMING DEBUT: Making her successful MMA debut with a first round armbar, two-time Olympic gold medalist Kayla Harrison won only the sixth women’s bout in company history. Her bout with Brittney Elkin, which took place in the rarely used women’s lightweight division, was the first PFL women’s bout scheduled above 135 pounds.
I AWARD YOU NO POINTS, MAY GOD HAVE MERCY ON YOUR SOUL: Coming into his bout with High, Escudero took the fight on a week’s notice and weighed in six pounds above the lightweight limit. Due to missing weight, Escudero was ineligible to win playoff points and was given the extremely controversial win when the referee mistakenly stopped the bout early.
ENTER THE BROADCASTER: Sean O’Connell called the first four fights of the show as the play-by-play announcer, and then five bouts later, he entered the cage as part of the light heavyweight tournament. O’Connell won by knockout and entered a very small class of fighters, including Heath Herring, who have called fights and competed on that same card.
RARIFIED AIR: By beating Kawana by decision, Mamedov became the sixth fighter in PFL history to win his first five fights with the company, joining Marlon Moraes, David Branch, Justin Gaethje, Abubakar Nurmagomedov and Blagoy Ivanov.
NO LOW BLOW, BRO: Thirty-five seconds into the second round of their contest, Watley landed a thunderous accidental groin kick on Thiago Tavares. After taking five minutes to recover, Tavares was unable to continue. According to Illinois Administrative Code Section 1370.630 (c)(2)(B)(iii) regarding MMA rules and regulations, “a contestant who is hit with an accidental low blow must continue after a reasonable amount of time, but no more than five minutes, or he or she may lose the bout by technical knockout.” While language earlier in the rule states that an accidental foul that causes an injury during the first two minutes of a non-title fight should result in a no-contest, the low-blow provision appears to counteract that and give the commission the power to award a TKO win to the fighter that lands the foul.
THE DRAGON DOES: In a fight he was likely down on the scorecards, Dan Spohn scored a thrilling comeback knockout at 4:31 of Round 3 against Bazigit Ataev , registering the second-latest stoppage victory in a non-title fight in PFL history.
NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN: Coming into this event, PFL had never been to Illinois (39 events), Kawana had never lost by decision (20 fights) and Yusupov had never been defeated (nine fights).
Jay Pettry is an attorney and statistician. Writing about MMA since he started studying the “Eminem Curse” in 2012 and writing for Vice Sports and Combat Docket along the way, he put together many UFC result and entrance music databases to better study the sport. You can find him on twitter at @jaypettry.