Defending 2019 light heavyweight champ Emiliano Sordi had one more hurdle to clear on route to this year’s PFL finals: former UFC standout and TUF Brazil 3 winner Antonio Carlos Jr.
The pair clashed on Friday’s PFL Playoffs 3 main card, one of two light heavyweight semifinals. The other featured another UFC alum, Cezar Ferrreira, taking on Marthin Hamlet, though unfortunately, that fight lasted just seconds.
Off his very first kick, Ferreira injured his hamstring (on his back foot, no less), which sent him down to the canvas. Hamlet took full advantage, jumping on his fallen foe and earning a TKO win — but after an hour delay to kick off the main card, it was an anticlimactic finish.
Antonio Carlos Jr. and Emiliano Sordi certainly lasted a little longer. A full fifteen minutes, in fact.
Brazil’s “Shoeface” found some success with his right hand early. But it was Sordi’s own right hand that had Carlos Jr.’s head snapping back near the midway point of the round. A short time later, Carlos Jr. closed the distance by punching his way in, then dropped for the takedown, which Sordi was able to defend.
While a low kick would halt the action briefly, Argentina’s Sordi would finish the round continually looking for a home for his right hand.
The second round saw a pair of early takedown attempts from Carlos Jr. early, with neither looking particularly strong. Sordi easily pulled away from them, while working in leg kicks and jabs.
It took a while, roughly two minutes, but Carlos Jr. did find his range in the second. Finally landing a handful of rights of his own. Sordi, however, maintained a slight lead in strikes thrown by the halfway mark. His face, though, made it clear that Carlos Jr. had hit the mark at least once, as a trickle of blood trailed down by one eye. Later in the round, the Brazilian would land that long-sought-after takedown, though Sordi was quickly back to his feet.
With a potential 19-19 heading into the third, five minutes or less would determine the fate of Emiliano Sordi and Antonio Carlos Jr. on Friday. Early in the third, Carlos Jr. went back to the takedown attempts. He controlled from the back; Sordi was soon warned for a fence grab. Moments, later, he was down, and when Sordi stood back up, he was wearing Carlos Jr. like a backpack. That wouldn’t last long, and Sordi broke free with two minutes remaining in the fight.
Sordi, however, couldn’t make much happen at range. Instead, “Shoeface” landed one more takedown in the final minute. Sordi made it back up, but with just seconds left, Antonio Carlos Jr. had won the round.
He’d also won the fight. As expected, it was 19-19 heading into the third, at least according to two judges. But all scored the fight for Antonio Carlos Jr., who moves on to face Hamlet on October 27.
PFL Playoffs 3 Official Results:
Antonio Carlos Jr. def. Emiliano Sordi by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) – light heavyweight semifinal
Marthin Hamlet def. Cezar Ferreira by TKO (injury), Round 1, 0:13 – light heavyweight semifinal