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Josh Copeland hopes win is enough to earn spot in PFL’s inaugural playoffs

Josh Copeland, left, fights Shawn Johnson during a

Josh Copeland, left, fights Shawn Johnson during a heavyweight mixed martial arts bout PFL 4 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale on July 19. Photo Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

Josh Copeland walked out of the Professional Fighters League cage a winner on Thursday, but he couldn’t help to wonder if he’d done enough to ensure a spot in the inaugural PFL playoffs.

“I knew more than likely I needed a finish,” Copeland said. “Sometimes you swing as hard as you can and sometimes they don’t go down. It is what it is, I’m blessed to get the ‘W’ and we’ll see where the cards fall.”

Fans got a taste of how the PFL’s unique league format will play itself out in its inaugural season as fighters fought for their playoff lives and jockeyed for seeding in their second and final regular season bouts at PFL 4 at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum.

Copeland defeated fellow UFC veteran Shawn Johnson via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) to earn three points in the heavyweight standings, putting him right on the postseason bubble after a loss in his first bout last month.

“My mind is hopeful for me,” Copeland said of his playoff chances, “but in the same aspect I’m happy for anyone who gets in. I am who I am.”

With the win, Copeland avoided playoff elimination for the night. He’ll now wait until the heavyweight schedule concludes later in the season to learn his fate.

Jordan had Copeland moving backward early in the fight, but Copeland began controlling the pace and action in the second. With both men looking exhausted in the third, the action slowed into a clinch grappling match. Both threw a few desperate shots late in the fight, but couldn’t get the finish they needed to guarantee a playoff spot.

“Just win, I think that’s the key. Definitely with two spots that are wide open and two others where guys have three points, too,” Copeland said. “I’ll say I definitely needed the finish, but sometimes all you can do is all you can do.”

The urge to pick up bonus points and guarantee a playoff spot was evident in the first round of the night. Heavyweights Valdrin Istrefi and Daniel Gallemore both landed heavy shots to get the night going, but it was Istrefi who did more damage, opening a cut near Gallemore’s eye. Istrefi finished the fight via TKO in the second round, earning five points and clinching a playoff spot while eliminating Gallemore.

Long Island MMA’s Marcos Galvao needed a big finish to make the playoffs after losing his debut, but opponent Max Coga was in the same boat. Coga was able to secure the finish and four points, winning with a three-punch combination that sent Galvao to the mat.

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