Prime Picks: PFL 2019 Championship

By: Jay Pettry
Dec 30, 2019

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Let's send off the year with one last score in the final 2019 edition of Prime Picks!

Ray Cooper III (-155)

As the main event of PFL 2019 Championship takes place at the women's lightweight division between -1175 Kayla Harrison and +650 Larissa Pacheco, this co-headliner is a much more intriguing option for bettors. The 2018 finalist Cooper has carved a less dominant, but still impressive path to the finals this year with a pair of second-round finishes. This is a sharp contrast to the previous season, as Cooper ran through his last three opponents to reach the $1 million title fight in a combined 5:56. In these 2019 finals, he will come to blows with a man who also started slow but has worked his way through the bracket to reach the endgame.

David Michaud started his Professional Fighters League career about as poorly as one could hope, suffering a liver kick knockout to Sadibou Sy in 17 seconds to open the 2019 season. Michaud rebounded from this crushing loss in dramatic fashion, smashing durable Brazilian Handesson Ferreira in the opening frame before taking two decisions in one night over John Howard and Gleico Franca. Cooper was also on the receiving end of a highlight reel knockout form Howard, but like his opponent, earned enough points from a stoppage win in the season to reach the playoffs. Advancing on a draw with Sy, Cooper went on to smash Chris Curtis -- the latter had already lost that night and retired, only to return an hour or two later.

Cooper, who no longer has to face former 2018 championship foe Magomed Magomedkerimov, will receive a much more favorable matchup in Michaud. If Michaud wants to come away with a win, he will have to weather the early storm that Cooper will throw at him, and start capturing rounds as Cooper tires. "Bradda Boy" has only reached the third round once in his 27-fight career, while Michaud did so as recently as October against Franca. Albeit in a losing effort, Michaud went five hard rounds with current Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight Dhiego Lima at Titan FC 39, where he potentially won the final round as both men grew fatigued. If Cooper wins, it will almost certainly come inside the distance. As there is only one prop bet per PFL fight currently, one could add the line of Fight Doesn't Go to Decision of -270 along to make a decent single-match parlay option.

Jordan Johnson (-115)

In the first title fight of the night, formerly unbeaten and ex-UFC talent Johnson contends with the rampaging Emiliano Sordi. While Sordi has looked spectacular this year, rattling off four stoppages including one over Vinny Magalhaes and two against former rival Bozigit Ataev , Johnson is exactly the kind of opponent that can quickly stifle the offense of the Argentinian. Despite his nickname, "Big Swinging" Johnson does not rely on swinging heavily and instead uses his reach advantage -- he will have 2.5 inches in the arms over Sordi -- to stay out of harm's way with jabs and follow-up overhand rights. He can use these strikes to quickly close the distance and either tie his opponent up to go for a body lock takedown, or change levels to aim at a single or double leg.

As a UFC fighter, Johnson landed multiple takedowns in each of his four UFC bouts. Unlike most fighters to compete for the Las Vegas-based promotion, however, he left of his own accord to chase the $1 million prize. Sordi was unsuccessful in his Dana White's Contender Series appearance in 2018, losing by quick submission to Ryan Spann and moving on to PFL. Much like Cooper, who was discussed earlier, Sordi is a true finisher, only once leaving the second stanza in a losing battle in 2011. Although Michaud from above can try to slow the fight down, Johnson will almost certainly look to do so right out of the gate. As long as the American survives the assault that will undoubtedly come at the opening bell, this fight is his to win. The pick-em of this bout, with both men currently residing at -115, likely stems from the power that Sordi has displayed in 2019. Johnson has never been stopped as a professional, with only Maxim Grishin beating him and needing three full rounds to do so. We do not predict that Sordi will be the one to do so, as Johnson either pursues a late submission or rides out an increasingly exhausted Sordi to a decision. Advertisement
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