Two UFC veterans went back-and-forth at PFL 3 2019, as Alex Nicholson and Francimar Barroso slugged it out, with the Brazilian getting the nod from the judges.
Francimar Barroso was the number-one seed in last year’s PFL heavyweight tournament, and will look to have similar success in the regular season this year. A pair of first-round stoppages last year gave Barroso the maximum 12 points, but he was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by finalist Josh Copeland by way of majority draw. Since then, Barroso won a fight in Russia to prevent any ring rust in 2019. The Brazilian was a four-year veteran of the UFC, going 3-4 with one no contest in their light heavyweight division.
Alex Nicholson had an exciting run during the PFL 2018 season. Going 1-1 in the regular season, Nicholson made the playoffs as the fifth seed with five points after a flying knee knockout in his PFL debut. In the playoffs, Nicholson knocked out Jack May in the first round, but was knocked out by eventual runner-up Josh Copeland later that night. The Florida native was 1-3 in the UFC primarily at middleweight, including a win over Devin Clark, but has fought at heavyweight in PFL.
Heavy hands were being dished early from both fighters, as they were finishing machines in the first season of PFL. A big overhand right landed for Francimar Barroso, then a slapping body kick from Alex Nicholson. Barroso caught a low kick and swept Nicholson to the ground, but Nicholson landed heavy strikes from the bottom as the Brazilian established position. Barroso started in half guard, moved his wayt to mount, but Nicholson snuck out the back door and landed a thudding body kick. A counter right hook landed for Barroso as Nicholson was kicking. Nicholson charged forward with a combination, landing a big right hand, but Barroso stood tall and absorbed the punches at the end of an exciting first round.
Barroso landed a loud single-leg takedown to start the second round, transitioning to half guard very quickly. Barroso moved to mount again, but refused to posture up. Again, Nicholson popped out the back door, but ate an upkick and was swept by a grounded Barroso, who took half guard again. After a stalemate in half guard, Nicholson swept Barroso again to stand up. Barroso was nailed by a wheel kick and subsequent punches, but Nicholson slipped and Francimar took side control to ride out the round, resisting one more sweep from Nicholson.
Barroso shot for a takedown to start the final round, but Nicholson defended with a beautiful spinning backfist. Barroso shot again, but Nicholson defended easily and rocked the Brazilian with an uppercut. A right hand knocked Barroso down, but Nicholson couldn’t take advantage due to upkicks. Nicholson allowed Barroso up, knocked him down again, but Barroso defended with a leglock attempt that stopped his offense. Nicholson slid out, but Barroso jumped into top position, transitioning to half guard. With 20 seconds to go, the referee stood up the exhausted heavyweights, who took their time getting up. Nicholson went for it all, but couldn’t finish.
Francimar Barroso def. Alex Nicholson by Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)