The PFL featherweight finale is set, with Lance Palmer due to face Steven Siler in a rematch of their November 2017 bout.
Needless to say, it was not the way either man wanted to win. While PFL 8’s heavyweight bouts were a mostly exciting affairs, its featherweight offerings were an eclectic bunch at best. A number of decisions. A draw. And in the semifinals, more boos and jeers than one would hope to hear at any fight card. Though, truth be told, not all of it was under the fighters’ control. Just ask Steven Siler.
Siler fought to a draw in his opening fight with Nazareno Malegarie at PFL 8. It’s a fight that saw Siler knock his opponent down early in the first, and dominate until the final two minutes, when Malegarie apparently remembered a million dollars was on the line. At that point, the Argentinian began swinging for the fences.
Siler, a veteran at this point with fifty fights to his name, and having come a long way since his exit from the UFC in 2014, did what veterans do: he fought smart. He conserved energy. He let the fight go the distance, knowing he’d won the first round of the two-round quarterfinal. A bit of game planning, as in the event of a draw, as the fight was later ruled, the winner of the first round advances.
So Siler moved forward thanks to the tiebreaker rule. And in the semifinals, he faced Alexandre Almeida in a rematch of their controversial PFL 4 fight.
Again, in his second fight of the evening, this one scheduled for a full three rounds, Siler started strong. He arguably won the first round. He was staying out of range of Almeida’s punches. Showing high fight IQ. Then, while entering the guard of Almeida in the second round, clearly a grounded opponent, he ate a nasty upkick. Square on the jaw.
Siler was rocked. The doctor came in. The featherweight was holding his head, stunned. He was helped to his feet, and clearly distressed, unable to continue. An emotional Siler had his head in his hands. The crowd heckled and jeered. Hey, why not send a fighter with a possible concussion out for more damage, right? Whether he was truly rocked or playing it up will surely be debated on message boards by those who have never even come close to a cage. The fact of the matter is, there was no reason for Siler to continue. He was hurt from an illegal blow. It was a DQ. And so it was ruled.
Lance Palmer heard plenty of boos on Friday in New Orleans as well. The Ernest N. Morial Convention Center seemed to echo with them during his semifinal fight with Andre Harrison. It was the pair’s second meeting, as just a year and a half ago, Harrison had defeated Palmer for his WSOF featherweight championship. Palmer had not lost since. Harrison was undefeated throughout his career.
Both men won their quarterfinal bouts by decision. When they met again in semifinal action, it was Palmer who was able to use his wrestling to control ‘Dre the Bull.’ Like a matador, Palmer let Harrison come in on the attack, only to snatch a single leg and take him down. On the ground, Palmer blanketed his opponent. Climbed his back, and forced Harrison to wear him like a backpack. The problem was, Palmer was unable to come close to finishing the fight, even while a standing Harrison carried his weight for a full three minutes. Towards the end of the second round, Harrison literally stopped defending and just stood there, Palmer still on his back. Harrison looked perplexed, no doubt at the lack of any escape, and the unwillingness of the ref to restart the action. Palmer seemed unsure of how to proceed.
Thus the fan unrest. The third round played out in similar fashion, Palmer taking the back for a while. Only this time, he’d manage to get the fight down, mount his opponent towards the end of the bout, and add in a bit of ground and pound. Not that it was needed; dull as it was, Palmer had earned a clear-cut decision. Harrison suffered his first loss.
The end result: Steven Siler will now face Lance Palmer at the PFL finale in New York City on December 31. It will be a rematch of their first meeting, a year ago, prior to the PFL’s inaugural season. Palmer won a decision that night. Who ever wins their next meeting will go home one million dollars richer.