Never tell Larissa
Pacheco the odds.
The heavy-handed and resourceful Brazilian sprang a monumental
upset under the
Professional Fighters League banner and captured a unanimous
decision from two-time Olympic gold medalist Kayla
Harrison, as their women’s lightweight final headlined the
2022 PFL Championships on Friday at Madison Square Garden’s
Hulu Theater in New York. Pacheco (19-4, 8-2 PFL) swept to power
behind 48-47 scorecards from all three judges, earning $1 million
in the process.
Harrison (15-1, 14-1 PFL) followed a familiar path in the first
round, where she looked to be in prime form. She tripped Pacheco to
the canvas, applied oppressive top control and racked up points
with body-head ground-and-pound, throwing punches with varying
intensity. However, Harrison did not exact enough of a toll to
discourage the former Jungle Fight champion. Pacheco rebounded in
the second round, seized the initiative with an attempted
guillotine choke and put the American Top Team star on notice. From
there, they tested one another in a series of back-and-forth
exchanges, on the feet, in the clinch and on the ground. Harrison
secured multiple takedowns, but she either wandered into danger
through submissions—she found herself trapped in a triangle choke
in the third round—or was met with ferocious resistance from
Pacheco’s hyperactive bottom game, as the Joao Bastos
protégé snapped off rapid-fire punches and hammerfists from her
When it came time for the decision to be read, Harrison’s face
carried a look of resignation. Those doubts proved to be
Loughnane Breaks Down Jenkins
Loughnane took out former Brave Combat Federation titleholder
and onetime NCAA wrestling champion Bubba
Jenkins with punches in the fourth round of their featherweight
final. Loughnane (25-4, 8-1 PFL) sealed the deal 2:38 into Round 4
and walked away with the $1 million check at 145 pounds.
Jenkins (19-6, 5-2 PFL), to no one’s surprise, was a tough out.
Loughnane tore into his lower leg with kicks, resulting in the
formation of a grotesque hematoma before the first round was over.
The damage compromised Jenkins’ base and prompted him to switch
stances throughout the bout, forcing him out of his comfort zone.
Nevertheless, he opened a cut on the bridge of Loughnane’s nose
with a consistent jab and connected with an occasional power punch
of his own. Despite his grit, the situation became untenable for
Jenkins. Loughnane, a polished closer at this stage of his career,
hit the accelerator in Round 4 and delivered a thudding right hand
that knocked his counterpart off-kilter. Jenkins retreated to the
cage, where he was blitzed with punches and one last knee strike
that led referee Bryan Miner to intervene on his behalf.
Loughnane has pieced together four straight victories since his
split decision loss to the unbeaten Movlid
Khaybulaev in August 2021.
Delija Flurry Buries Scheffel
Delija put away Dana White’s Contender Series alum Matheus
Scheffel with punches in the first round of their heavyweight
final. A protégé of the great Mirko “Cro
Cop” Filipovic, Delija drew the curtain 2:50 into Round 1 and
cashed in on a life-changing $1 million payday.
Scheffel (17-9, 2-2 PFL) found a home for a few left hooks but
could not keep the Croatian at bay. Delija staggered the CM System
product with a left hook of his own, pinned him to the fence with
follow-up punches and connected with several straight rights that
made the Brazilian fold at the base of the cage.
Delija, 32, now has 13 first-round finishes to his credit.
Ladd Sneaks Past Budd
Ultimate Fighting Championship castaway Aspen Ladd
eked out a contentious split decision over onetime Bellator MMA
champion Julia Budd in
a three-round women’s featherweight showcase. All three members of
the cageside judiciary scored it 29-28: Tim Corrado and Dave Tirelli
for Ladd, Sal D’Amato for Budd.
Ladd (10-3, 1-0 PFL) enjoyed a dominant first round, where she
caught a kick, delivered a takedown and advanced to the back during
an ensuing scramble. The MMA Gold Fight Team rep flattened out Budd
on multiple occasions, applied her ground-and-pound and piled up
plenty of control time. The two women spent the final 10 minutes
engaged in a back-and-forth clinch and standup battle in which
neither of them managed to gain separation. Budd (16-5, 2-1 PFL)
performed well in close quarters but lacked the oomph and output to
curry enough favor with the judges.
The victory was Ladd’s first since Dec. 7, 2019.
Aubin-Mercier Hook Blindsides Ray
Tristar Gym’s Olivier
Aubin-Mercier wiped out former Cage Warriors Fighting
Championship titleholder Steven Ray
with a sweeping right hook in the second round of their lightweight
final. Ray (25-11, 2-2 PFL) met his demise 4:40 into Round 2,
suffering his first knockout loss in more than three years.
Aubin-Mercier (17-5, 6-0 PFL)—who pocketed $1 million in
victory—seized the reins with a fast start, as he stepped into
thudding left hands and a series of damaging kicks to the lower
leg. Ray appeared to turn the tide in the second round, where he
surprised the Canadian judoka with a takedown, transitioned to the
back and anchored himself with a body triangle. Aubin-Mercier was
cool under duress and eventually escaped to an upright position. He
then circled on the outside and snuck a right hook over Ray’s
defenses, the impact of the concussive blow dropping the Scotsman
where he stood. No follow-up shots were necessary.
The 33-year-old Aubin-Mercier has won six fights in a row.
Disciplined Sy Downs Taylor
A committed, technical approach spearheaded by body and leg kicks
carried Sadibou Sy
to a unanimous decision over former Titan Fighting Championship
Taylor in the five-round 2022 PFL welterweight final. All three
cageside judges struck 49-47 scorecards for Sy (13-6-2, 7-4-2 PFL),
who pocketed the $1 million prize at 170 pounds.
Taylor (10-3, 3-2 PFL) struggled to manage distance effectively and
allowed the Swede to snipe him from the outside for much of the
match. Sy paired stance switches with a steady jab from both hands,
circled away from danger and excelled at keeping the exchanges at
his desired range. Taylor did his best work in the second and
fourth rounds, where he crowded the Xtreme Couture product in the
clinch and consolidated those efforts with short-range punches and
knees. However, he failed to maximize those gains and lost his
tenuous grip on momentum, at which point Sy resumed his assault on
the legs and body.
Sy, 35, will ride a three-fight winning streak into his 2023
Violent Wilkinson Mauls Akhmedov
Former Hex Fight Series champion Rob
Wilkinson forced a cut-induced doctor stoppage against Omari
Akhmedov in the 2022 PFL light heavyweight final. Akhmedov
(24-8-1, 3-2 PFL) was
deemed unfit to continue between the second and third
rounds, closing the book on his three-fight winning
Wilkinson (17-2, 4-0 PFL), who banked $1 million for his efforts,
had far too much horsepower for the undersized American Top Team
representative. He cut loose with power punches from both hands—his
right uppercut was particularly effective—and walked through the
return fire from a game but outmatched Akhmedov, which included
crushing leg kicks and a handful of overhand rights. Wilkinson
hacked open a gnarly diagonal cut on the right brow with a
well-placed knee late in the second round, pushed his fading
counterpart to the fence and unleashed a hellacious burst of
punches that nearly ended it there. Akhmedov made it to the bell,
but the cageside physician declined to allow him to go any
The 30-year-old Akhmedov has rattled off six consecutive victories,
all of them finishes.
Moraes (15-6, 4-2 PFL) rallied from a two-rounds-to-none
deficit to cut down Marlon
Moraes (23-11-1, 1-1 PFL)
with punches 58 seconds into the third round of their featherweight
Schulte (23-5-1, 12-2-1 PFL) disposed of Jeremy
Stephens (29-21, 1-2 PFL)
with an arm-triangle choke 1:32 into the second round of their
lightweight tilt; Magomed
Magomedkerimov (30-6, 12-1 PFL) laid claim a unanimous decision
Tibau (37-17, 2-3 PFL) in a three-round catchweight clash
contested at 175 pounds, drawing 30-27 scores from all three
cageside judges; Dakota
Ditcheva (7-0, 2-0 PFL) took care of Katherine
Corogenes (3-1, 0-1 PFL) with
punches 4:20 into the first round of their women’s flyweight
pairing; and Biaggio
Ali Walsh—the 24-year-old grandson of Muhammad Ali—punched out
a woefully overmatched Tom
Graesser a mere
45 seconds into the first round of their amateur lightweight
Larissa Pacheco Shocks Kayla Harrison in 2022 Professional Fighters League Final