Raufeon Stots at Nebraska-Kearney (Photo courtesy of Adam Konruff; Kearney Hub)
The UFC is taking this weekend off, which has allowed the PFL and Bellator to compete for attention on Friday night. As always, there are plenty of former wrestlers competing in the combat sports world this weekend. The following are some of the most notable competitors competing this weekend.
PFL 2021 #7
In the main event of Friday's PFL show, Ray Cooper III will take on former UFC title challenger Rory MacDonald. Cooper is a legacy MMA competitor and has done some of his best work throwing heavy strikes at range. However, he does come from a wrestling background. During his prep days at Pearl City High School , he was a three-time Hawaii state champion. MacDonald is the favorite going into this fight, but he has looked vulnerable at times in his recent career. This fight has the potential to turn into a wild main event.
The main card of PFL 2021 #7 will air live on ESPN2 starting at 9:00 pm ET.
The Bellator event will also feature a veteran wrestler. John Salter won an NAIA title for Lindenwood University in 2007 at 174 pounds . He made his professional MMA debut two years later and signed with the UFC after only four pro fights. Salter left the promotion in 2010 and eventually signed with Bellator in 2015. At his new home, he has gone 8-1, with his only loss coming against former champion Rafael Lovator Jr.
Salter will face off against middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi with the title on the line. Mousasi is much more well-known in the MMA world and is as high as a -400 favorite on the books, but he has struggled against wrestlers in the past. Salter will likely need to stick to his roots to pull off this upset.
Raufeon Stots was an NJCAA champion for Labette Community College in 2009 before transferring to Nebraska Kearney. There he trained with current UFC champion Kamaru Usman and won NCAA Division II titles in 2012 and 2013. He followed Usman into MMA and made his professional debut in 2015. He currently holds a 16-1 record, with his only loss coming against current UFC contender Merab Dvalishvili. Despite the record, the competition gets much more challenging here.
The former Nebraska Kearney wrestler is set to take on Magomed Magomedov, who is a top prospect in his own right. He is 18-1 with a victory over recent UFC title challenger Petr Yan. Yan also handed Magomedov his only defeat in a rematch. "Tiger" signed with Bellator last year and has won his first two bouts with the promotion. This bout could easily be considered a battle between two of the brightest prospects in Bellator.
Davion Franklin wrestled on the high school level in Minnesota for Watertown-Mayer. He then moved to the junior college ranks, where he was an NJCAA qualifier for Iowa Lakes in 2014. Franklin moved to MMA in 2020 and earned a scholarship of sorts from Bellator to train at the Jackson Wink team and has since gone 3-0 . On Friday, he faces off against Everett Cummings, who holds an undefeated record through his first 15 fights.