What had been billed as a battle of friends and teammates at PFL 9 is no more.
The PFL playoffs got underway earlier this month, and continue this Friday in New York City. It is the third playoff card, on August 23, however, that featured a promising welterweight battle between pals Magomed Umalatov and Magomed Magomedkerimov, the latter a former PFL champ.
That fight is no more. PFL officials recently announced that Umalatov had withdrawn from the fight. In his place, Solomon Renfro will step up to take on Magomedkerimov.
The reason behind Umalatov withdrawing from the semifinal bout was not disclosed.
Umalatov previously told Cageside Press that his preference was for the pair to meet in the finals, if at all possible. And the league has not had the best results when it comes to friends fighting under their banner, after the disastrous Natan Schulte vs. Raush Manfio bout earlier this year.
Renfro (11-3), meanwhile, has the most to gain from the situation. The former LFA and Contender Series fighter had just one fight during the PFL regular season, which he won via knockout. The second-round finish of Jarrah Hussein Al-Silawi earned Renfro five points, and extended his overall win streak to three — but that was not enough to make the playoffs. Until now.
Magomedkerimov (32-6) won the league’s welterweight tournament in 2018, defeating Ray Cooper III in the final that year. 2019 would see him drop out due to injury; Cooper took his revenge in 2021, beating the Russian in a rematch in the final. Visa issues the welterweight endured last year kept him out of the 2022 playoffs.
This year’s PFL 9 card takes place at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY on Aug. 23, 2023.