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Canadian Michael Dufort loses split decision at PFL 5 but moves on to MMA playoffs

SALT LAKE CITY — Lightweight (The Canadian Badass) Michael Dufort moved on to the Professional Fighters League playoffs despite losing a split decision to American Adam (The Bomb) Piccolotti on the PFL 5 undercard Friday.

The judges scored it 29-28, 28-29, 29-28 for the 35-year-old Piccolotti, a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu from California.

Cagenomics, which keeps stats for the mixed martial arts promoter, had Dufort with a 92-35 edge in strikes, with 31 of those coming on the ground. Inside the cage, the 30-year-old from Montreal shook his head at the decision.

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

Any kind of win Friday would have guaranteed Dufort (13-5-0) a place in the playoffs. Piccolotti (15-6-0) needed to win by a finish to remain in the playoff hunt.

But other results Friday went Dufort's way and he secured a playoff berth as the third seed against No. 2 Gadzhi Rabadanov of Russia. No. 1 Brent Primus will face No. 4 (Cassius) Clay Clay Collard in the other 155-pound semifinal, an all-American matchup.

There are 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, who won his first fight of the PFL season in April, is hoping to claim the title held by his former training partner (The Canadian Gangster) Olivier Aubin-Mercier of Montreal, who retired after winning his second straight PFL lightweight championship in November.

Aubin-Mercier was cageside to watch Friday's fight.

Piccolotti scored with kicks in a cagey first round and took Dufort down halfway through the round. Dufort turned the table by grabbing Piccolotti's neck from below, blunting the attack.

Dufort was busier in the second round, landing more strikes. They finished the round grappling on the fence as Piccolotti escaped a choke attempt on the ground.

Piccolotti, upping the tempo, landed some early strikes in the third round before Dufort put him up against the fence for a prolonged clinch. It was Piccolotti coming forward in the final minute.

The main event at the Jon M. Huntsman Center saw Denmark's Mads Burnell (18-6-0) win a unanimous 29-28 decision over Collard (25-13-0 with one no-contest).

Collard, a Utah native, lost to Aubin-Mercier in last year's 155-pound final.

Dufort submitted Burnell in April in his opening fight of the season, forcing Burnell to tap to a guillotine choke 63 seconds into the second round.

Dufort previously competed on the PFL Challengers circuit with a win over American Arut Pogosjan in March 2022, which started the five-fight win streak that was snapped Friday.

Earlier Friday on the undercard, Canadian lightweight Anthony (The Genius) Romero (12-3-0) lost a unanimous decision to Italy's Sergio (Darko) Cossio on the undercard. Both are alternates in the 155-pound bracket.

It was a close first round with the 27-year-old from Welland, Ont., having the edge in the second and Cassio (19-9-1) coming on strong in the third. All three judges scored it 29-28 for Cossio

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 21, 2024

The Canadian Press