2023 PFL Championships, “OAM”, Pacheco, & Magomedkerimov are two time champions

The PFL Championship is a night in MMA like no other. The 2023 Professional Fighters League season comes to a close at The Anthem in Washington D.C., an 11-fight card featuring 6 championship bouts.

It was without bells and whistles, a methodical workman like performance earns Oliver Aubin-Mercier back-to-back PFL Lightweight championships. The Canadian defeated American Calay Collard by unanimous decision. Collard worked to the body and bruised up Aubin-Mercier’s lead leg but was unable to spot “OAM’s” takedowns. “OAM” controlling the majority of the fight on Collard’s back holding a body triangle and threatening chokes.

Things can change quickly in the Heavyweight division. Renan Ferriera spent the first round under Denis Goltsov with the Russian hunting a kimura on the Brazilian’s left arm. Once back on the feet to start the second round the 6’11” monster denied a takedown, landed two right hands putting Goltsov on his back. “Problema” dropping down hammerfists till he’s the 2023 PFL Heavyweight champion.

History was made by Larissa Pacheco as she became the first two division women’s champion in PFL history. The 2022 Women’s Lightweight champion is the 2023 Women’s Featherweight champion. The scorecards will reflect a pretty one-sided affair as the Pacheco power punching drew blood from Marina Mokhnatkina’s nose, right ear, and from under her right eye. But the Russian fighter was no walkover threatening leg locks on several occasions and even having Pacheco on her back in the final round. Pacheco a step ahead on every submission escaping a delivering punishment for the failed attempt. A second straight championship season now see Pacheco on a nine-fight win streak.

The Welterweight finals saw a familiar name crowned as champion. Magomed Magomedkerimov is now a two-time PFL Welterweight champion. The 2018 champion submitted the 2022 champion Sadibou Sy by guillotine choke in the third round. The Length of the 6’3” Sy gave Magomed issues early, and Sy was able to stuff the takedown attempts. The relentless pressure of Magomed started to wear down Sy as Magomed finished the 2nd round on top. A body shot in the third round saw Sy slightly bend over, enough of the neck exposed for Magomed to secure a guillotine choke.

The Light-Heavyweight finals pitted Josh Silveria who was a semi-finalist last year against Impa Kasanganay, who started the year on the challenger series.  Silveria, a two-division champion in the LFA thought of a top-notch prospect. Kasanganay coming off a UFC release more of someone searching for reinvention. A reinvention is just what we’ve seen from Kasanganay over his six-fight win streak. Kasanganay poured on the offense punishing Silveria with his boxing as he defended nearly every takedown and even had Silveria desperately defending a rear naked choke in the third round. This was a statement making performance for the 2023 champion.

The Featherweight champion was crowned in a rematch as Jesus Pinedo capped off an improbable run with a third consecutive knockout win.  Pinedo started off the season behind the eight ball after a split decision loss to Gabriel Alves Braga. In his next two fights Pinedo would knockout both of last season’s finalists Brendan Loughnane & Bubba Jenkins to earn his way into the finals. The Peruvian fighter would realize his championship dreams stunning Braga with a left hook, a jump knee followed by a combination of hooks forcing the refs to call it a standing TKO.

Early in the night on the prelims former PFL Women’s Lightweight champion Kayla Harrision won a decision over UFC vet Apsen Lapp. UFC vet Derek Brunson made a successful debut for the promotion dominating former PFL Welterweight champion Ray Cooper III. And it was a straight right, Left hook combination that saw amateur prospect Biaggio Ali Walsh rack up another win.

 

Main Card

  • Lightweight Title: Olivier Aubin-Mercier (21-5) def. Clay Collard (24-11) by (49-46 x3) Unanimous Decision
  • Heavyweight Title: Renan Ferreira (12-3) def. Denis Goltsov (32-8) by TKO (Right Hand & Hammerfists) R2
  • Women’s Featherweight Title: Larissa Pacheco (23-4) def. Marina Mokhnatkina (11-4) by (49-46 x3) Unanimous Decision
  • Welterweight Title: Magomed Magomedkerimov (34-6) def. Sadibou Sy (16-7-2) by Submission (Guillotine Choke) 1:17 MaR3
  • Light-Heavyweight Title: Impa Kasanganay (14-4) def. Joshua Silveria (12-2) by (50-45 x3) Unanimous Decision
  • Women’s Featherweight: Kayla Harrison (16-1) def. Aspen Ladd (11-5) by (30-27 x3) Unanimous Decision 
  • Middleweight: Derek Brunson (24-9) def. Ray Cooper III (16-2) by (30-27, 30-25 x2) Unanimous Decision 

Prelims

  • Featherweight Title: Jesus Pinedo (23-6-1) def. Gabriel Alves Braga (12-1) by TKO (Strikes) 0:58 R1
  • Amateur Lightweight: Biaggio Ali Walsh def. Joel Galarza Lopez by KO (Punches) 1:24 R2
  • Bantamweight: Phil Caracappa (10-3) def. Khai Wu (7-5) by (30-27, 29-28 x2) Unanimous Decision
  • Featherweight: Jesse Stirn (16-6) def. Josh Blyden (9-3) by (29-28, 30-27 x2) Unanimous Decision

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