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Palmer, Pineda, Schulte and Radzhabov advance to PFL Season 2 finals

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Ryan Loco

Two No. 7 tournament seeds will face off with two No. 1 frontrunners in the featherweight and lightweight divisions of the PFL Season 2 tournament.

In the PFL 8 playoff headliner at lightweight, underdog Loik Radzhabov denied Chris Wade a rematch with Season 1 winner Natan Schulte, wearing down the American with a smothering attack.

Radzhabov had advanced to the semis after a nail-biter against Islam Mamedov, who fought to a majority draw, requiring a poll of judges to decide the fight’s overall winner. All three chose Radzhabov, whose striking left its mark opposite Mamedov’s grappling.

In the semifinal bout, Wade tried mightily to control Radzhabov against the fence and on the mat. But every time, Radzhabov managed to right himself and fire back with heavy punches, and by the second round, Wade was spent. By the final frame, Radzhabov was battering his foe at every range as Wade desperately shot for a takedown. The scorecards were unanimously 30-27 for Radzhabov, who will meet Schulte in the Season 2 finals on Dec. 31 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

PFL 8 took place at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas and aired on ESPN+ and ESPN2.

Schulte gets another trip to finals

In the night’s co-headliner, Season 1 lightweight champion and No. 1 seed Natan Schulte punched his tickets to the Season 2 finals with a fight that started on shaky ground.

Akhmet Aliev was no easy mark for Schulte’s grappling and twice won takedown battles, putting the Brazilian on bottom. What Aliev wasn’t able to withstand was the pressure that’s been a signature of Schulte. In the second round, the Season 1 champ used his striking to setup a takedown. When he got on top, he quickly capitalized, setting up an arm-triangle that forced a tap at the 2:26 mark of the middle frame.

Kennedy no match for tourney newcomer Pineda

Featherweight Daniel Pineda appeared not the least bit worried when a wheel kick whiffed and put him on his back. When he didn’t have the leverage for a hip toss, he got back up with ease. Nothing Kennedy did bothered him, because he had a counter for everything. And sure enough, when Kennedy exposed his neck on a single-leg attempt, he patiently waited to apply a guillotine choke that forced a tap at the 4:00 mark of the opening frame.

Pineda, who knocked out his quarterfinal opponent Movlid Khaybulaev in just 29 seconds, now moves to meet Season 1 featherweight tourney winner Lance Palmer in the finals.

“Hey Palmer, bring it,” the UFC and Bellator vet said afterward. “Let’s go.”

Palmer pins Gilpin for spot in finals

Featherweight Lance Palmer didn’t have quite as easy of a time, but he secured a spot in the Season 2 tourney finals with a dominant performance over Alex Gilpin.

Palmer, the Season 1 featherweight champ and No. 1 seed, was in the driver’s seat when it came to takedowns. But he also showed off more of his striking skills than usual as Gilpin invited a standup fight in the second round. A last-second flying knee and choke attempt from Gilpin allowed Palmer to set up a reversal and final stretch of top control.

PFL 8 Playoff final results:

Loik Radzhabov def. Chris Wade via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Natan Schulte def. Akhmet Aliev via submission (arm-triangle choke) - Round 2, 2:26

Daniel Pineda def. Jeremy Kennedy via submission (guillotine) - Round 1, 4:00

Chris Wade def. Nate Andrews via majority decision (19-19, 20-18, 20-18)

Loik Radzhabov vs. Islam Mamedov is declared a majority draw (Mamedov advances by winning judges’ tiebreaker)

Akhmet Aliev def. Rashid Magomedov via unanimous decision (20-18, 20-18, 20-18)

Lance Palmer def. Alex Gilpin via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Natan Schulte def. Ramsey Nijem via submission (rear-naked choke) - Round 1, 0:52

Jeremy Kennedy def. Luis Rafael Laurentino via TKO (strikes) - Round 2, 1:24

Daniel Pineda def. Movlid Khaybulaev via KO (strikes) - Round 1, 0:29

Alex Gilpin def. Andre Harrison via submission (ninja choke) - Round 2, 1:49

Lance Palmer def. Alexandre Almeida via unanimous decision (20-17, 20-18, 20-18)