For heavyweight Josh Copeland, earning himself a spot in this year’s Professional Fighters League million dollar finals was a contrast in fights with the two victories he picked up in the playoffs this past October.
Following a decision win over Francimar Barroso in the quarter finals, Copeland was able to overcome a potentially fight-ending cut to pick up a knockout victory over Alex Nicholson in the semifinals.
“I had felt I had won the first round (against Barroso), so I felt good going into that second round,” Copeland told MMAWeekly.com. “I could have gotten off the cage (in the second), but I wanted to conserve energy and didn’t want to take the extra risk of getting caught if there was separation.
“It had definitely been a while since I had a knockout like that. Every fight I was thinking if it was it this time. Being a heavyweight you’re due for a knockout hopefully one out of every four or five fights. It had definitely been a while for me, so I was very happy that it happened when it did (against Nicholson).”
Copeland is thankful for the fact that he was able to avoid a potentially fight-ending cut in his first bout and instead was able to have something like that happen in the semis where he was able to finish the fight.
“Any fight like that you have multiple variables that can take you out of a fight,” said Copeland. “If you would have switched the fights around and I would have gotten that cut over my eye in the first one (that I sustained versus (Nicholson) I wouldn’t have been able to fight in the second one. I’m very thankful and blessed things played out like that.”
At the PFL 2018: Championships on December 31 in New York City, New York, Copeland (18-5-1) will look to earn a heavyweight championship and one million dollars when he faces off against Phillipe Lins (13-3) in the season finals.
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“Phillipe is dangerous,” Copeland said. “He’s a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu, and not only that but he also likes to throw too. He’s got the reach advantage and has got quick hands.
“For me, what I feel I need to do to win is be smart and use my footwork and timing and try to draw him out and capitalize. I know I’ll be the bigger fighter, so I hope it will allow him to feel my weight and presence when I come forward. The game plan is to set him up, time him, and hopefully get the knockout.”
For Copeland the title and money are nice, but it’s the opportunity to compete that he relishes. So while he’s focused on the finals and Lins, he’s also looking forward to next season and repeating as the PFL’s heavyweight champion.
“To be honest, it’s not the money that drives me more than fighting,” said Copeland. “The money will be nice and will open up different doors and that, but to me just being a competitor, I love to compete and test myself
“I’ve already thought about and am looking forward to next year. Being completely unbiased, in all the different places I’ve fought, the PFL has made me feel at home. It’s something I look forward to being a part of next year.”