Canadian welterweight Rory (The Red King) MacDonald is on his way to the Professional Fighters League playoffs despite losing via decision against Sadibou (The Swedish Denzel) Sy on PFL 6.
The referees made Friday night’s match at Overtime Elite Arena 30-27, 30-27, 29-28 for Sy (11-6-2 with a no-contest).
The longer Sy could fight MacDonald’s take-off attempts and use his movement to score with shots from a distance.
“I’m preparing for this guy, I swear I woke up in the middle of the night and I’m 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 over its last eight.
Unlike other MMA campaigns, the Professional Fighters League has a regular season, playoffs and championships. The four fighters in each division who earn the most points during the regular season advance to the playoffs with the two semifinal winners meeting for the PFL title and a payday of $ 1 million.
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 defeated (Jordanian Lion) Jarrah Al Silawi via the first-round TKO.
Sy, who took the second playoff seeding, will face No. 3 Carlos Leal from Brazil. All four semifinalists finished with six points.
MacDonald, a BC native who now makes his home in Montreal, earned three points for the May win and another three for the first round. Sew collected three points for each of his victories.
The post-season PFL events are set 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 feet three, the 35-year-old Sy (pronounced “see”) had a three-inch height and four-inch range advantage over MacDonald, which was favored by bookmakers.
MacDonald tried for early takedowns, but was denied by the available Sy. The fight was briefly interrupted in the first round by an unintentional MacDonald knee against Sy’s groin. When the action resumed, the Swede stayed on the outside and struck out a blow.
The 32-year-old MacDonald received a stain on his right cheek in the first round and tried unsuccessfully to make a new removal.
MacDonald continued to look for a takedown in the second round with the fighters clinging to the fence.
The Canadian came out purposefully in the third round, connected with a few strikes but could not get Sy to the ground.
Sy took down MacDonald via a leg trip with two minutes left. MacDonald got up quickly and the fight was paused for another MacDonald groin attack when the two stopped at the fence.
Referee Blake Grice warned MacDonald. “Do not do it again,” he said.
According to PFL statistics, Sy linked in 62 out of 85 strikes compared to 35 out of 70 for MacDonald.
Two-time Olympic champion Harrison beats Young
Friday’s PFL 6 main event saw Kayla Harrison, a two-time Olympic champion in judoka, stop American Kaitlin (The Striking Viking) Young with TKO in the first round. Harrison (14-0-0) is after a third straight PFL title in lightweight. Young (12-13-1) took the fight with two weeks notice.
Hawaii’s Ray Cooper III, who won the welterweight title last year, recovered from a loss last time and recorded a TKO victory in the first round over Brett Cooper. But Cooper, who is 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 beating American Dilano (The Postman) Taylor with TKO in the second round.