Larissa Pacheco ended Kayla Harrison’s dominant reign in PFL’s lightweight division on Friday night, handing the two-time PFL champion her first loss as a pro through 16 fights.
Pacheco provided a strong counter to Harrison’s fighting style, using it to pull off a unanimous decision victory with a score of three rounds to two after five rounds of action.
Pacheco’s win headlined PFL’s final event of the year, which took place at the Hulu Theater in New York City, New York, USA.
Pacheco’s best work came in the second, fourth and fifth rounds of the fight. She was able to counter the takedown-heavy style of Harrison, often putting herself in controlling positions on the ground.
Pacheco punished Harrison for attempting takedowns, frequently unloading with punches while slowing down an attempt.
Exchanges on the ground were, at times, a power struggle between the lightweights. One fighter would get the fight to the ground but would struggle to maintain control through scrambles and submission attempts.
In the end, it was the damage-heavy attack from Pacheco that allowed her to sneak by through a tight margin on scorecards and win a $1 million grand prize.
Friday’s main event added a surprising new chapter to a lightweight rivalry that has been on the shelf for years.
Before this weekend, Pacheco’s most recent loss dated back to the last time that she faced Harrison. Their prior matchup took place in the grand final of PFL’s 2019 playoffs, where Harrison pulled off a five-round unanimous decision in the end.
Pacheco built up a reputation as a finisher en route to a title fight this year. She stopped all three of her prior 2022 opponents in the first round, with her longest fight going just longer than two-and-a-half minutes.
Pacheco entered this card as a massive underdog, with sportsbooks putting her as high as +500.
Harrison continued to build her record this year as she chased a third title in the PFL. She beat Marina Mokhnatkina and Kaitlin Young in the regular season, then made quick work of Martina Jindrova in a playoff fight to reach the finals yet again.
Loughnane Caps Off Strong Performance Over Jenkins With Fourth-Round Stoppage
Brendan Loughnane showcased his striking skills to stop Bubba Jenkins in the fourth round and earn the PFL Featherweight Championship in Friday’s co-main event.
Loughnane dropped a tired Jenkins to the canvas with a clean right cross early in the fourth round. Loughnane then stayed on a recovering Jenkins, landing with follow-up shots until the referee stepped in.
Loughnane had the better stand-up skills in the first three rounds of the bout as well. He came close to a finish late in the third, stringing together knees and punches to the head and body of an overwhelmed Jenkins.
Loughnane had a slow but steady path toward the finals, scoring three decision victories between the regular season and semi-finals.
Jenkins similarly had a trio of wins prior to Friday. His quickest victory came recently, submitting Ryoji Kudo in the second minute of a bout to get his fight against Loughnane.
The featherweight finalists billed themselves as rivals in the lead-up to the fight. After the contest had concluded, Loughnane confessed his respect for Jenkins.
“I love this guy from the bottom of my heart,” said Loughnane as he embraced Jenkins with a handshake.
Delija Earns PFL Belt In Second Championship Appearance
Ante Delija was successful in his second PFL championship run, finishing Matheus Scheffel in the first round to become the promotion’s top heavyweight.
Scheffel got wobbled by a left hook during the opening round of the bout. Delija continued to press Scheffel after connecting with this shot, eventually piecing together enough punches to drop him and cause the fight to end.
Delija was also a finalist in the 2021 PFL season. He wasn’t successful that time around, dropping a decision to Bruno Cappelozza after a back-and-forth five-round battle.
Delija had a trio of wins to make it back to the finals this year. He had a similarly quick performance in the semi-finals stopping, Renan Ferreira in the first round with strikes in August.
Scheffel finishes up his 2022 with two wins and two losses.
The fight was a chance for Scheffel to avenge a loss, as he suffered a second-round finish defeat against Delija in April.
Ladd Takes Split Decision Over Budd In PFL Debut
Former UFC talent Aspen Ladd won her PFL debut on the main card, taking a split decision against Julia Budd after three rounds on the feet.
Ladd took the victory through a close striking battle on the feet. Both fighters connected frequently with shots, with Budd having many strong moments despite losing.
Ladd switched over from the PFL following a controversial UFC career. She struggled to make weight during her time with the promotion, including a bantamweight bout two months ago that was scrapped after she missed the 136-pound limit.
Ladd competed this weekend at featherweight, where she hopes to spend the rest of her career.
Budd briefly appeared in the regular season this year, losing a decision to Genah Fabian. Her second fight in the season, a booking against Kayla Harrison, was scrapped due to injury.
Aubin-Mercier Scores Right Hook Finish
Olivier Aubin-Mercier scored a walk-off knockout to defeat Stevie Ray and become the PFL Lightweight Champion on Friday night.
Aubin-Mercier floored Ray in the second round with a right hook to force a stoppage in the fight. He succeeded in the previous round with striking, but numerous moments prior to the stoppage saw Ray succeed on the ground.
Aubin-Mercier has remained undefeated since joining the PFL roster. He earned four victories this year, with Friday’s result being the first time he picked up a victory via stoppage.
The former UFC fighter called for a PFL event in Montreal, Quebec, Canada afterward.
Ray, a fellow former UFC fighter, came out of retirement to compete in this year’s PFL season. His two previous wins this year came against Anthony Pettis, who he beat in the regular season and during the playoffs.
Sy Finally Claims Belt In Fourth PFL Year
PFL veteran Sadibou Sy became a champion in the promotion for the first time this Friday, going five rounds against Dilano Taylor to win via unanimous decision.
Sy earned his victory with a kick-heavy stand-up battle. He stayed on the perimeter of the cage for most of the fight, using this position to land kicks to the body of an advancing Taylor.
Taylor was constantly walking forward during the 25 minutes of action, although Sy was the more effective striker.
Sy has competed in PFL seasons since 2018. He made it into the playoffs of all three previous years but was never a champion nor a finalist in the past.
Sy finishes his 2022 with four straight wins. This streak includes a regular season decision over former Bellator champion Rory MacDonald.
Taylor had a busy year that included five fights. He first joined the PFL roster through their “Challenger Series” in February. He made it into the playoffs with a decision victory over Joao Zeferino in the regular season.
Taylor scored a first-round stoppage over MacDonald to make it to the finals this weekend.
Wilkinson Dominates Akhmedov To Earn Light Heavyweight Title
Rob Wilkinson was the first fighter to become champion that night, putting together an incredibly one-sided performance against UFC alum Omari Akhmedov to earn a stoppage victory.
Wilkinson put a beating on Akhmedov for most of the two rounds that the fight took place. He wobbled a tough Akhmedov numerous times and opened a cut near his right eyebrow with punches.
Akhmedov was nearly stopped in the closing moments of the second round. He collapsed to the canvas after enduring a barrage from Wilkinson that lasted until the bell went. Before the third round started, a ringside doctor made the call to prevent the fight from continuing.
Wilkinson had a perfect 2022 PFL year to earn a title. He finished all four opponents in the promotion this year, including a 97-second victory over Delan Monte to score a spot on this weekend’s card.
Akhmedov was making his first PFL title run after a 15-fight UFC campaign. He scored three wins earlier this year, including two via stoppage in the regular season.
The Rest of the Card
Sheymon Moraes spoiled the return of Marlon Moraes on Friday, stopping him in the third round with a two-punch combination. Marlon Moraes was coming out of retirement but suffered his fifth consecutive finish loss in the process.
Natan Schulte was dominant on the ground against veteran Jeremy Stephens, eventually submitting him in the second round with an arm triangle choke.
Magomed Magomedkerimov finished his year with a second win, going the distance against veteran Gleison Tibau for a unanimous decision victory.
Undefeated Dakota Ditcheva scored her seventh pro win on the prelims, using her striking to hurt Katherine Corogenes and put her away in the first round.
Biaggio Ali Walsh, a grandson of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, earned his second amateur win on the prelims. He stopped Tom Graesser in the first minute of their bout with punches.
Main Card (8:00PM EST) (PPV)
Bout 12: Larissa Pacheco def. Kayla Harrison via Decision, Unanimous (PFL Lightweight Championship)
Bout 11: Brendan Loughnane def. Bubba Jenkins via TKO, Strikes (RD 4, 2:38) (PFL Featherweight Championship)
Bout 10: Ante Delija def. Matheus Scheffel via TKO, Strikes (RD 1, 2:50) (PFL Heavyweight Championship)
Bout 9: Aspen Ladd def. Julia Budd via Decision, Split
Bout 8: Olivier Aubin-Mercier def. Stevie Ray via TKO, Strikes (RD 2, 4:40) (PFL Lightweight Championship)
Bout 7: Sadibou Sy def. Dilano Taylor via Decision, Unanimous (PFL Welterweight Championship)
Bout 6: Rob Wilkinson def. Omari Akhmedov via TKO, Strikes (RD 2, 5:00) (PFL Light Heavyweight Championship)
Preliminary Card (5:30PM EST) (ESPN+ / TSN Direct)
Bout 5: Sheymon Moraes def. Marlon Moraes via TKO, Strikes (RD 1, 0:58)
Bout 4: Natan Schulte def. Jeremy Stephens via Submission, Arm Triangle Choke (RD 2, 1:32)
Bout 3: Magomed Magomedkerimov def. Gleison Tibau via Decision, Unanimous
Bout 2: Dakota Ditcheva def. Katherine Corogenes via TKO, Strikes (RD 1, 4:20)
Bout 1: Biaggio Ali Walsh def. Tom Graesser via TKO, Strikes (RD 1, 0:45) (Amateur)