The Professional Fighters League (PFL), the fastest growing and most innovative sports league, resumed with the 2023 PFL Regular Season, live from The Theater at Virgin Hotels, Las Vegas. The ten-fight card featured the Heavyweight and Women’s Featherweight divisions, with statement wins from Larissa Pacheco, Bruno Cappelozza, Olena Kolesnyk and Rizvan Kuniev.
Pacheco, who returned to Regular Season action after upsetting previously undefeated Kayla Harrison at the 2022 PFL World Championship, battled Julia Budd in the night’s main event. The 2022 Women’s Lightweight Champion, Pacheco began her 2023 Regular Season campaign with a unanimous decision victory over Budd, 30-27, 30-27, 29-28 earning 3 points and improving her professional record to 20-4.
In the evening’s co-main event, 2021 PFL Heavyweight Champion Bruno Cappelozza and Matheus Scheffel took to the PFL SmartCage in a highly-anticipated rematch from the 2022 PFL Regular Season. A straight right hand to the jaw was all Cappelozza needed to put Scheffel away, winning by TKO at the 2:15 mark of the first round. The 2021 Heavyweight king earned 6 points and improved to 16-6 in his career.
Fighting out of Ukraine, 2022 PFL Women’s Lightweight Semifinalist Olena Kolesnyk took on Aspen Ladd, who looked to build on her PFL debut victory. Kolesnyk and Ladd went back-and-forth in a grueling three-round contest, but in the end, it was Kolesnyk who won a majority decision, 28-28, 29-28, 29-28. Due to her missing weight, Kolesnyk only earned 2 points from the victory.
In a Lightweight amateur bout, Biaggio Ali Walsh, grandson of Muhammad Ali, returned to the PFL SmartCage against Isaiah Figueroa. Ali Walsh continued the momentum from his impressive debut with a spectacular striking display resulting in a first round TKO victory at the 1:42 mark. Ali Walsh earns his second win inside the SmartCage, both wins coming by way of first round stoppage.
“The Professional Fighters League continued the 2023 Regular Season tonight from Las Vegas with thrilling action for MMA fans around the world,” said PFL CEO Peter Murray. “The stakes of each PFL Regular Season fight are high as our world class athletes make their first push towards the PFL Playoffs and a $1 million dollar purse.”
“Tonight the 2023 PFL Regular Season continued with world class action in the Women’s Featherweight and Heavyweight divisions,” said PFL President Ray Sefo. “Our athletes once again showed why they are the best in the world. I am excited to see our Welterweights and Lightweights enter the SmartCage at PFL 3 next Friday.”
Rounding out the undercard on ESPN+, Renan “Problema” Ferreira, who holds the two fastest KO’s in PFL Heavyweight history, squared off against Rizvan Kuniev. In his SmartCage debut, Kuniev neutralized Ferreira’s striking with superior grappling and a well-rounded game plan to earn a unanimous decision victory, 29-28, 29-28, 30-27. Kuniev earned 3 points with the decision and improved to 13-2-1 in his career.
Further Heavyweight action saw Marcelo Nunes, a BJJ specialist who entered the contest with a 2-0 record in the PFL, take on Maurice Greene who was seeking redemption after coming up short in his PFL debut a year ago. Greene put on a stand-up clinic, as he punished Nunes with an arsenal of strikes en route to a second-round TKO at the 1:20 mark. The victory gives Greene 5 points and moves his career record to 11-7.
Two PFL Regular Season newcomers, Yorgan De Castro and Danilo Marques, kicked off Heavyweight division action. The two battled the three round distance, with Marques coming away with the unanimous decision win, 30-27, 30-27, 29-28. Marques picks up 3 points in the Heavyweight division while improving to 14-4 in his career.
2022 Women’s Lightweight Semifinalist and PFL Challenger Series winner Martina Jindrova returned to the SmartCage in a battle against PFL newcomer Amber Leibrock. Making an impact in her debut, Leibrock landed a perfectly-placed head kick to knock Jindrova out in the opening round. The stoppage came at the 2:19 mark earning Leibrock 6 points in the Women’s Featherweight standings and improving her record to 7-4.
Continued action in the Women’s Featherweight division saw Evelyn Martins face off against Karolina Sobek, the first female fighter from Poland to fight under the PFL banner. In a tightly-contested three-round contest, the 20-year old Martins used her takedowns to grind out the unanimous decision win, 29-28 across all the judges’ scorecards. Martins earns 3 points in the Women’s Featherweight standings and remains undefeated in 5 professional bouts.
The first Women’s Featherweight bout of the 2023 Regular Season kicked off the card on ESPN+. Marina Mokhnatkina, a seven-time sambo world champion took on Yoko Higashi, a judo specialist from Japan. Mokhnatkina used striking and grappling to control the fight from the opening bell en route to a second-round TKO via ground and pound. With the win, Mokhnatkina earned 5 points in the Women’s Featherweight standings and improved to 9-3 in her career.
The PFL action returns to The Theater at Virgin Hotels, Las Vegas on Friday, April 14 with Welterweight and Lightweight action. 2022 Lightweight Champion Olivier Aubin-Mercier matches up with PFL newcomer, Shane Burgos, while 2022 Welterweight Champion Sadibou Sy returns to action in a matchup against Jarrah Al-Silawi.
All PFL 2023 Season events are live in primetime on ESPN, ESPN2/ESPN+ and ESPN Deportes, as well as on a wide and diverse group of premier global distribution partner platforms reaching 160 countries around the world.