Former Oklahoma State wrestler Jared Rosholt won two fights Tuesday to advance to the Pro Fighters League heavyweight final to compete for $1 million on New Year’s Eve at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The No. 7-seeded Rosholt, a three-time NCAA All-American at OSU, defeated No. 2 Muhammed DeReese by first-round TKO in 3:41 then won by unanimous decision over No. 4 Kelvin Tiller at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
Rosholt (20-7) will face No. 5 Ali Isayev (8-0) in the final. Isayev, a 2009 European freestyle wrestling champion, knocked out No. 1 Denis Goltsov with one second remaining in the semifinal to book his trip to MSG.
It wasn’t easy for Rosholt to get to the final, let alone the semifinals.
Rosholt took some heavy damage from DeReese in the first 2:15 of the quarterfinal bout before the former Cowboy was able to get back to his feet. Rosholt then used a body lock to throw DeReese to the mat then did a double-leg takedown to take DeReese’s back. From there, Rosholt threw a flurry of punches until referee Herb Dean called for the bell. It was Rosholt’s first TKO win since UFC 185 against Josh Copeland in March 2015.
Francimar Barroso defeated Alex Nicholson to advance to a semifinal bout against Rosholt, but the Brazilian was not medically cleared to fight. Nicholson was then granted the semifinal fight, but he was also not cleared. PFL then shifted to Tiller, who lost to Isayev in the quarterfinals, as the highest seeded heavyweight left in the tournament for a trilogy fight against Rosholt.
Rosholt used three takedowns then worn down Tiller to claim the bout and the trilogy 2-1, with wins in the last two bouts in the series.