Alex Gilpin could not solve the puzzle of Lance Palmer’s wrestling, as the ‘The Party’ more or less cruised to victory, a second featherweight championship, and another million dollars on New Year’s Eve.
The featherweight finale for the PFL 2019 season didn’t look exactly as anticipated when fight night finally arrived. Originally, the 145lb championship was supposed to feature Daniel Pineda facing Lance Palmer, with a million dollars on the line. Instead, Alex Gilpin stepped in when Pineda failed a drug test and was placed on suspension by the NSAC.
Gilpin was the “lucky loser” in this scenario, as Palmer had already defeated him in the semifinal round, via a unanimous decision. And also in the regular season, making the finale their third fight of 2019. Gilpin no doubt had revenge on his mind come New Year’s Eve, as the pair faced off once more inside the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Palmer, meanwhile, was looking to repeat as champ, after winning it all in 2018. The pair would start slow, however. A long feeling out process was followed by an eyepoke. That brought the doctor in to check on Palmer, while Gilpin got a warning from the ref. Clearly an accidental foul, but Palmer was showing some obvious discomfort. After taking some time, they got back underway, with Gilpin firing off a high kick, only for Palmer to land a huge double-leg takedown. He immediately moved to side control, but Gilpin managed to move into North-South and lock in a choke as he transitioned to the top. Palmer was in a bad spot, but would escape. The pair scrambled back up, and Palmer was now aware of the threat Gilpin posed on the ground.
Gilpin’s next attack, however, was a little more high-flying. A flying knee looked pretty, but led to another takedown by Lance Palmer. Palmer again moved to side control, where he rained down some ground n’ pound.
The second frame saw Gilpin press the action once more. A minute in, however, and it was Palmer again getting his opponent down and getting on top. Gilpin scrambled free, and while a second takedown followed, he nearly locked in a choke again. When that didn’t work out, however, Gilpin was pretty much stuck. He spent the bulk of the round on his back, and was in need of a course correction heading into the third.
Round three saw Palmer get the fight to the ground, then end up dumping Gilpin when things looked a bit dicey. Palmer resumed control on top, while Gilpin tried to push the wrestler off. Grinding, dominating wrestling was the story once again for Palmer. While he was in danger a handful of times, he was in control most of the round. As for Gilpin, despite the odd submission attempt, he had no real solution for Lance Palmer.
The championship rounds looked to offer more of the same. Round four opened with a Palmer takedown. He stayed in the driver’s seat. Gilpin was active off his back, as much as he could be. But as time wore on and the pair became more slick with sweat, a submission was less and less likely. The fifth round proved just that: Palmer easily slipped out of an early guillotine attempt. Looking up at the ceiling off his back, Gilpin seemed to be able to do little more than wonder how he wound up in such a predicament for the third time this year.
The inevitable unanimous decision win gave Palmer the featherweight title once again, and another million dollars, making him the PFL’s first multi-millionaire.
Official Result: Lance Palmer def. Alex Gilpin by unanimous decision (50-43, 50-44, 50-44)