Andre Harrison never gave much thought to the unique format of the Professional Fighters League.
The unbeaten featherweight from Freeport felt he had the blueprint for playoff qualification — two wins and he’s in.
That plan worked to perfection for Harrison, culminating with a unanimous decision victory over Nazareno Malegarie (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) at PFL 4 on Thursday at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum.
Harrison maintained his unblemished professional record, moving to 19-0 in his career. Perhaps more importantly, Harrison earned three points in the PFL featherweight standings, giving him six for the regular season and clinching a spot in the inaugural PFL playoffs.
“Win and advance, that’s the name of the game, everybody,” said Harrison in his post-fight interview.
Afterward, he added: “It was all right, it was a decent performance. I landed some good stuff but didn’t counter as much as I would’ve liked to, I think I should’ve countered stuff some more. It is what is. Better to learn on a ‘W’ than an ‘L’.”
Harrison had Malegarie moving backward early in the fight. A minute in, Harrison connected with a big right hand. Malegarie shot for a takedown, but Harrison quickly grabbed his neck and sprawled. Harrison couldn’t secure the choke, but landed a shot as they returned to their feet. Harrison landed a kick and stuffed a takedown, continuing to score as the round wore on. Harrison had Malegarie stumbling on a few occasions, finishing the round strong but unable to get a finish.
When the bell sounded to start the second, Harrison quickly took control of the cage and looked to land his right hand behind his jab. He was fast with his combinations throughout the early part of the round, following up each strike and often finishing combinations with heavy uppercuts. Midway through the round, Harrison initiated a clinch, but Malegarie turned into it and had Harrison against the cage. When they finally broke, Harrison swarmed, throwing quick combinations and a kick to the head of a flustered Malegarie. Harrison eventually went for another takedown and again landed some big shots on the break, but Malegarie was able to survive the onslaught.
As the crowd chanted “Freeport” early in the third, Harrison again was able to connect with his strikes. Moving forward with plenty of confidence, Harrison threw a few body and leg kicks that landed with pop. Harrison went into cruise control for the remainder of the fight with two rounds in his back pocket, doing just enough to ensure the victory.
“I don’t know if I do everything as good as I probably could, I try my best when I come out here and fight,” Harrison said. “I feel good coming out here and putting on a good performance. He was really tough. He took a beating.”
The win put Harrison into the eight-man PFL playoffs, but his seed and next opponent are still up in the air. His quarterfinal and semifinal matches will take place on the same night at an October PFL event to be determined. Two more wins would put Harrison into the $1 million championship fight on New Year’s Eve at Madison Square Garden.
“I don’t do losing,” Harrison said. “The money is great and all but this is about my legacy and keeping this winning going.”