Pacheco needs just 14 seconds to KO Kolesnyk


Larissa Pacheco is one step — or maybe one punch? — away from becoming the first two-division PFL champion after a lightning-fast brutalization of Olena Kolesnyk in a women’s featherweight playoff semifinal Friday in New York.

Pacheco (22-4), who won the 2022 championship when the PFL women’s competition was held at lightweight, didn’t break a sweat against Kolesnyk (9-6), knocking her out in just 14 seconds. After blasting Kolesnyk with a straight right hand during the first exchange of the fight, Pacheco collapsed her against the cage with another hard right, then finished her with a third big right hand as the referee swiftly jumped in.

It was the 28-year-old Brazilian’s ninth straight victory since losing the 2019 lightweight final to two-season champ Kayla Harrison. Seven of those wins have come via first-round knockout, including all three of her meetings with Kolesnyk. Another of those wins was Pacheco’s upset of Harrison in last November’s 155-pound final.

“I was super confident because I work a lot, I put a lot of effort into this,” Pacheco, who was a 21-1 betting favorite, said afterward through an interpreter. “I’m not the type of queen that just sits around and waits for people to come out and bus my table. I go out there and I go to work.”

It was the second straight fight that Pacheco has ended by knockout in the first minute — which she cited as an impediment to showing off her development. “I feel like if the fights lasted a little longer, I would be able to show more evolution,” she said. “I can’t really help it that once my hands land, they just fall.”

The top-seeded Pacheco will go for a second straight season championship on Nov. 24 against No. 2 seed Marina Mokhnatkina (11-3), who also scored a quick finish to earn her spot in the final. Mokhnatkina, a six-time world sambo world champion from Russia, took Amber Leibrock (7-6) to the canvas seconds into their fight and immediately worked her way to an armbar, eliciting the tapout at 1:45 of Round 1. Mokhnatkina is 5-1 in the PFL, with her only loss coming at lightweight last year against Harrison.

In Friday’s heavyweight semifinals at The Theater at Madison Square Garden, Denis Goltsov and Renan Ferreira also got the job done quickly to advance to the championship fight.

Goltsov (32-7), the top seed, took down Jordan Heiderman (7-1) barely a minute into their fight, bloodied him with ground-and-pound punches, then secured an arm triangle choke for a submission with 44 seconds left in the first round, handing Heiderman his first career loss. This is the fourth season in which Goltsov has been in the PFL playoffs, and it is the first time he has made the final.

Goltsov was asked afterward if securing an early takedown was his game plan. “No plan,” he said. “Just move and go ahead to final.”

Ferreira (12-3), the No. 2 seed, dropped Maurice Greene with a straight right hand to the chin in the final minute of the first round and got the TKO finish at 4:46. Greene (11-9), the fifth seed, was in the bracket because Marcelo Nunes withdrew because of injury.