Andre Harrison, right, fights Nazareno Malegarie during a featherweight mixed...

Andre Harrison, right, fights Nazareno Malegarie during a featherweight mixed martial arts bout at PFL 4 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale on July 19, 2018. Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

Andre Harrison’s $1 million journey and unbeaten professional run have come to an unceremonious end.

The Freeport fighter suffered his first career loss in his second fight of the evening, losing to Lance Palmer in the semifinals of the PFL’s inaugural playoffs via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) Friday at PFL 8 in New Orleans.

With the loss, Harrison (20-1) has been eliminated from the inaugural PFL playoffs, in which each champion will receive a $1 million prize. Palmer advances to the final to face the winner of the other semifinal in the championship event at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 31.

Both Harrison and Palmer won by decision in their two-round quarterfinal bouts earlier in the event, and both showed the effects of a long night in the cage throughout a slogging matchup. 

Both Palmer and Harrison were tentative early, circling the cage and looking for openings. After few strikes of consequence over the first half of the round, Harrison caught Palmer with an accidental low strike while throwing a kick. The fight quickly restarted, but the action didn’t pick up. Harrison looked for combinations but had little luck, while Palmer tried to land a big shot and move out of the way but couldn’t connect either.

Palmer began landing his left hand more consistently early in the second, hitting and moving away from Harrison. After a little more than a minute, Palmer shot for a takedown on a counter and brought Harrison to the ground. Harrison soon had Palmer on his back, standing up as Palmer looked for a choke. Harrison successfully defended as Palmer tried to twist Harrison’s head and force a submission, but Palmer maintained the position for more than three minutes until the round’s conclusion.

When the third round started, Palmer soon found himself in a similar position, taking Harrison’s back and bringing the fight to the canvas. Palmer eventually found his way into the mount as Harrison turned away, going for an arm triangle choke. Palmer attempted to soften up Harrison with some strikes, soon moving to half-guard to secure the choke and later taking Harrison’s back again. In the final 30 seconds, Palmer rained down strikes on Harrison in a last-gasp attempt to finish the fight, but the final horn sounded, sending the fight to the judges. Palmer walked away with the easy decision victory.

Palmer and Harrison had fought once already before Friday. Harrison won that bout at the final event for World Series of Fighting before its rebrand as PFL, taking Palmer’s WSOF featherweight title in a five-round unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 49-46).

Harrison got his night off to a solid start earlier, beating Alexandre Bzerra in a majority decision (20-18, 20-18, 19-19) to win his quarterfinal.

Harrison caught Bezerra with a punch early that caused his opponent to lose his balance, but he didn’t look for the takedown. With the first round counting as a tiebreaker, both fighters were aggressive. Bezerra moved forward against Harrison while Harrison smartly threw counterpunches, outstriking his opponent. Bezerra continued to come forward and started to finally land some, evening the round a bit. Harrison slipped later in the round as Bezerra looked to swarm, but Harrison collected himself and effectively defended himself from Bezerra’s attacks. In the final 30 seconds, however, Bezerra appeared to have Harrison hurt with a punch, but the LIer found his balance and took the fight to the cage.

Early in the second, Bezerra continued to throw big hooks, pushing Harrison back in the cage. After a minute of exchanges, Harrison threw a leg kick that visibly hurt Bezerra, who stumbled, but Harrison didn’t immediately return to it.

"I didn't realize right away, but I tried to follow it up but I didn't want to rush in and get caught with something, so I just took my time and came in," Harrison said after the quarterfinal bout.

Instead, he began landing a few punches inside, hurting Bezerra again. Bezerra wildly tried to counter, but had little luck as Harrison went back to the legs. Bezerra never stopped pressing forward, eventually pushing Harrison into the cage but failing to secure a takedown in the final moments of the fight.

"Bezerra is a tough, tough dude," Harrison said, "I have nothing but respect for him."

Palmer defeated Max Coga in a unanimous decision victory (20-18, 20-18, 20-18) in the first featherweight quarterfinal of the night.

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