Jake Shields vs. Ray Cooper & Abubakar Nurmagomedov vs. Pavlo Kusch Featured in Welterweight Matchups
Todd Harris Calls the Action, Joined by Randy Couture, Bas Rutten, Yves Edwards, & Reporter Caroline Pearce
STAMFORD, Conn. – July 3, 2018 – NBC Sports continues coverage of the Professional Fighters League this Thursday, July 5, live at 9 p.m. ET on NBCSN from the GWU Smith Center in Washington, DC. MMA coverage will be headlined by a trio of welterweight showdowns, including Jake Shields (32-9-1) vs. Ray Cooper (13-5), Abubakar Nurmagomedov (14-1) vs. Pavlo Kusch (22-5), and Rick Story (19-9) vs. Yuri Villefort (11-5).
For more than 18 years, Shields has been a major force in the MMA world, utilizing his “American jiu jitsu” to earn 32 career wins, more than any other fighter in the PFL. He faces Cooper, who was 11 years old when his father, Ray Cooper Jr., lost a bout against Shields in 2004. Now 14 years later, the Hawaiian has a shot to avenge his father’s loss at PFL 3.
Abubakar Nurmagomedov is best known as the younger cousin of current UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, but Abubakar is well on his way to making a name for himself as well. The younger Nurmagomedov is 14-1 in his career, having won six straight since suffering his only loss in September of 2014 by a doctor stoppage against Magomed Mustafaev. He faces Kusch, who has fought in Europe and Asia during his 27-fight career, and makes his U.S. debut on Thursday. The veteran fighter, who lives in Ukraine’s capital city of Kiev, earned early finishes in all 22 of his wins, with 19 coming by submission.
MMA veteran Story makes his return to the cage after a nearly two-year hiatus from fighting. Story, a former college wrestler, had a formidable 7-year run in the UFC. After being knocked out for the first time in his 11-year career in his most recent fight (August 2016), Story is back for this season with the PFL. Villefort is the son of a famed vale tudo fighter and the younger brother of fellow PFL competitor Danillo Villefort, who fights at middleweight. Competing in judo and jiu jitsu since he was a toddler, he’s rebounded from five consecutive losses to enter the PFL season on a five-fight win streak.
The NBCSN show will also feature undefeated top Russian prospect Shamil Gamzatov (11-0) vs. financial analyst turned pro fighter Eddie Gordon (8-4), and John Howard (25-13) vs. Gasan Umalatov (17-4-2) in middleweight bouts.
Todd Harris calls the action, joined by MMA Hall of Famers and analysts Randy Couture and Bas Rutten, alongside Yves Edwards and reporter Caroline Pearce.
The Professional Fighters League features a regular season, playoffs, and championship, and individual fighters compete in a win-and-advance postseason format. The 2018 PFL season consists of seven regular-season events, a bracket-style playoff, and a $10 million postseason prize pool. The premiere season begins with 72 athletes, 12 in each of the six different weight-classes, with one fighter in each division earning $1 million and the title of true champion. NBC Sports will present exclusive live Thursday night PFL telecasts, including seven regular-season live events in prime time exclusively on NBCSN through the end of August.
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