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PFL playoff results: Natan Schulte rallies against Rashid Magomedov to win $1 million, lightweight belt

After some early difficult, Natan Schulte rallied with the help of clinch work and takedowns to defeat Rashid Magomedov for the PFL lightweight championship and $1 million prize.

The lightweight playoff final was part of today’s PFL 11 event at Hulu Theatre at Madison Square Garden in New York. It aired on NBCSN. Schulte (15-3-1) defeated Magomedov (22-3-1) by unanimous decision by scores of 48-46, 48-46, 48-46).

The fight started with a lot of clinch work between the two athletes. That didn’t lost all that long, though, because once they distanced themselves into striking space, they upped the risk of their attacks. Magomedov threw superman punches and spinning attacks at Schulte, who was more eager to close the distance and land inside but had more of a challenge finding his range.

The striking continued into the second round, with Schulte trying to push the pace with offensive pressure. Magomedov was content with that, though, because his counter-striking game was on point. Magomedov’s right hand, in particular, was a good weapon. That’s until he hit Schulte with an accidental eye poke that caused referee Todd Anderson to make the controversial decision of taking one point away from Magomedov. Magomedov picked up the pace afterward, though, landing some solid punches and kicks toward the end of the round.

Despite the help of the point deduction, Schulte came out in the third with the look of a fighter who needed to make something happened. He tried to up his offense pace, but Magomedov was able to keep him at bay with his precise striking and tight defense. The body work of Magomedov start to make a real difference as it forced Schulte to try to work his way back into the clinch and for takedowns. Magomedov had an answer for all of it, though, and continued to work his game in an effective way.

Schulte, clearly sensing the need to do something big, came out in the fourth round and quickly got ahold of Magomedov. He landed with a pretty-looking foot sweep, but couldn’t do much with it before Magomedov got his back to the fence and eventually broke his way into feee space. Magomedov landed more strikes, but that wasn’t enough to prevent Schulte from reengaging in the clinch and work his way toward another set of takedowns. He simply couldn’t hold Magomedov on the ground, and despite some good minutes of control, he couldn’t inflict much damage. He did, however, sap Magomedov of some of his energy and looked like the fresher athlete through 20 minutes.

With the fight competitive heading into the fifth, Schulte picked up where he left off after a strong fourth round. He clinch up on Magomedov, who was faded and had a lot of difficulty getting Schulte to stay away from him. Schulte once again made little effort to inflict damage, which was obviously frustrating to Magomedov. The referee was uninterested in separating them, though, Schulte maintained control through the five-minute stanza.

The judges rewarded Schulte for his late work and in the end, he got the unanimous decision victory.

“Thank you my God, my family, my team, my coach – thank you everybody,” Schulte said in his post-fight interview with Carolyn Pierce. “This has been amazing. What else can I do to make $1 million in a year?”

Up-to-the-minute PFL 11 results include:

For complete coverage of PFL 11, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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