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Canadian lightweight Michael Dufort submits Denmark's Mads Burnell in PFL action

LAS VEGAS — Canadian lightweight Michael Dufort submitted Denmark's Mads Burnell on Friday to win his Professional Fighters League regular-season debut.

The fight ended 63 seconds into the second round with Burnell tapping to a guillotine choke. Dufort outstruck Burnell 66-58, according to Cagenomics.

Unlike other mixed martial arts promotions, the PFL schedule incorporates a regular season and playoffs.

Dufort is one of 10 fighters in the lightweight division, with points awarded for wins and finishes. The top four advance to the playoffs after the regular season with the last man standing earning the title and US$1 million.

Dufort is hoping to claim the title held by his former training partner Olivier Aubin-Mercier of Montreal, who retired after winning his second straight PFL lightweight championship in November.

American (Cassius) Clay Collard, who lost to Aubin-Mercier in last year's 155-pound final, stopped former Bellator champion Patricky Freire via second-round TKO in another lightweight bout Friday.

Dufort, who has two more regular-season fights, tops the lightweight standings with five points. Collard and Brent Primus also have five points but Dufort gets first place because his finish was faster.

Dufort (13-4-0 with 11 stoppages) used his four-inch reach edge to his advantage in a fast-paced first round, firing jabs. Burnell (18-6-0) absorbed the flows and hit back with calf kicks and strikes as he kept coming forward.

The two fighters kept swinging in the second round and Dufort drove Burnell backwards with a flurry of blows. The Canadian then hurt him with a body kick, forcing him to retreat while eating punches. Dufort grabbed Burnell's neck and locked in a guillotine choke that forced a quick tap from Burnell.

Dufort had competed on the PFL Challengers circuit with a win over American Arut Pogosjan in March 2022, which started his current five-fight win streak.

The PFL 2 main event at The Theater at Virgin Hotels pitted Impa Kasanganay, last year's light-heavyweight champion, against Alex Polizzi.

The card was PFL's second of the 2024 season.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 12, 2024

The Canadian Press