The 2023 PFL season kicks off for the league’s heavyweight and women’s featherweight competitors, as PFL 2 2023 goes down live from The Theater at Virgin Hotels in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Surprise 2022 women’s lightweight champion Larissa Pacheco makes her season debut in the main event, taking on former Bellator featherweight champion Julia Budd. Pacheco ran roughshod through the 2022 season, earning three first-round TKO finishes to earn a shot at the 2022 PFL Championship against promotional superstar Kayla Harrison, whom she had lost to twice before. However, in one of the biggest upsets in MMA history, Pacheco was able to defend the ground attack of the two-time Olympic gold medalist in Judo and outstrike Harrison on the feet to earn a unanimous decision win and one million dollars. Budd has gone 3-2 since losing her Bellator belt to Cris Cyborg at Bellator 238, including two losses in a row last season to Genah Fabian at PFL 3 2022 and Aspen Ladd in a showcase bout at the 2022 PFL Championship.
The other women’s featherweight fight on the main card pits the aforementioned former UFC contender Ladd against Ukrainian boxing specialist Olena Kolesnyk. After a myriad of weight issues led to her dismissal from the UFC, the PFL picked up Ladd, who earned a win in her aforementioned promotional debut. Meanwhile, Kolesnyk rode a four-fight losing streak across Invicta and the 2021 PFL season into the 2022 season, but carried the weight of a war-torn Ukraine on her back to earn two wins over Abigail Montes and Vanessa Melo to earn a spot in the 2022 playoffs before becoming one of Pacheco’s victims of a first-round stoppage.
Four of the women’s featherweight fighters competing tonight will be making their debut in PFL season competition. Former Invicta and Bellator contender Amber Leibrock will face 2022 PFL semifinalist Martina Jindrova, while Japan’s Yoko Higashi battles Russian Marina Mokhnatkina, who returns for her third straight season. Brazilian 20-year-old Evelyn Martins will make her debut in the PFL after earning a promotional contract by winning two fights on the PFL Challenger Series earlier this year, taking on undefeated Polish prospect Karolina Sobek.
In the heavyweight co-main event, a rematch from one of last season’s biggest upsets will go down as 2022 finalist Matheus Scheffel will look to prove to fans that his PFL 5 2022 win over 2021 champion Bruno Cappelozza was no fluke. The win kicked off a Cinderella run to the finals last season, where it came to a screeching halt against Ante Delija, whom he also lost to in the first half of last season at PFL 2 2022. Cappelozza was still scheduled to compete in the playoffs last season before an injury forced him out of the competition.
The opening card is headlined by former Eagle FC heavyweight champion Rizvan Kuniev making his promotional debut against “Problema” Renan Ferreira, who will look to put things together in his third PFL season. Two Brazilian grappling specialists in Marcelo Nunes and Danilo Marques will make their seasonal debuts against former UFC striking specialists Maurice Greene and Yorgan de Castro. Finally, after a slew of last-minute changes, the final heavyweight fight of the first half of the season between Denis Goltsov and Patrick Brady will take place next week at PFL 3 2023.
The main card will also see an amateur non-season showcase bout featuring the grandson of the legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, Biaggo Ali Walsh, as he squares off with Isaiah Figueroa and tries to go 2-0 in the promotion after a debut win on the 2022 PFL Championship show last year.
MMA Sucka has fight fans covered with PFL 2 2023 results, with the action kicking off at 7pm ET/4pm PT on ESPN+ with the opening card, followed by the main card at 10pm ET/7pm PT on ESPN 2 and ESPN+.
PFL 2 2023 Results
Larissa Pacheco def. Julia Budd via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)
Bruno Cappelozza def. Matheus Scheffel via TKO (Punches) at 2:15 of Round 1
*Olena Kolesnyk def. Aspen Ladd via Majority Decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Amateur Showcase Bout – Biaggio Ali Walsh def. Isaiah Figueroa via TKO (Punches) at 1:42 of Round 1
Rizvan Kuniev def. Renan Ferreira via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Maurice Greene def. Marcelo Nunes via TKO (Knees and Punches) at 1:20 of Round 2
Danilo Marques def. Yorgan de Castro via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Amber Leibrock def. Martina Jindrova via KO (Head Kick) at 2:19 of Round 1
Evelyn Martins def. Karolina Sobek via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Marina Mokhnatkina def. Yoko Higashi via TKO (Ground and Pound from Crucifix) at 1:29 of Round 2
*Kolesnyk missed weight and will be deducted one season point