While having already clinched a playoff spot, Friday’s PFL 6 card in Atlanta, Georgia was no less important for welterweight Rory MacDonald.
A former UFC title challenger and Bellator MMA champ, “The Red King” had been bounced from competition in 2021, his first year with the league. With one submission finish already under his belt this year, he was looking to correct that.
Looking to play spoiler, Sadibou Sy, a longtime PFL veteran.
Almost immediately off the opening bell, MacDonald pursued the takedown, snatching a leg, and attempting to transition to a double-leg takedown attempt. Sy stayed up, however, using the fence for balance while MacDonald stayed on him.
While Sy would eventually get his back off the fence, MacDonald had him back in the same position moments later. The Canadian appeared to be bleeding, despite Sy having landed little offense. When they finally went down, MacDonald wound up on bottom, but was quickly back up. Sy reversed, MacDonald reversed again.
MacDonald went right back to the grappling in round two, pinning Sy against the fence. Not a lot of action, to the displeasure of the crowd. Sy would try to reverse, and get turned around again. With just under two minutes left, they’d go back to center. Sy landed a jab, while MacDonald walked his opponent down. Sy flashed stance switches, but despite his length and a decent jab, couldn’t seem to keep MacDonald on the outside. In he came again on a single-leg attempt in the final minute. For Sy, the biggest moment of the round was landing a body kick, that seemed to dog MacDonald in the third.
The final round saw MacDonald open with a hook, then pursue a single-leg takedown. As he had through two rounds, Sy saw decent takedown defense. He’d end up reversing, and they’d go into a slow spin cycle along the fence. MacDonald then put on a body lock from the back, trying to drag Sy down — to no avail. And with two minutes to go, it was Sy planting Rory MacDonald on his back. MacDonald didn’t take long to get back up, however, using his hips to escape. But back on the feet, MacDonald landed low with a knee.
After a brief pause for Sy to recover, he landed a leg kick, followed up with a jab, and for a moment had MacDonald on the defensive. But that didn’t last long, and MacDonald would go back to walking his opponent down in the final 30 seconds.
Come the scorecards, two judges scored all three rounds for Sy, who took home the unanimous decision win. But with MacDonald already having a playoff spot locked up, both men move to the playoffs.
MacDonald, the number one seed, will face Magomed Umalatov next. Sy, meanwhile, fights Carlos Leal, who got three points in a walkover at PFL 6 when his opponent withdrew.
Official Result: Sadibou Sy def. Rory MacDonald by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)