The third time was the charm for Brazil’s Larissa Pacheco, who fought tooth and nail with Kayla Harrison for the full five-round duration to earn a unanimous decision victory and capture the 2022 PFL women’s lightweight title in New York.
Pacheco and Harrison faced off in the main event of the PFL World Championship event at the Hulu Theatre at Madison Square Garden, where many expected Harrison to register a third win over the Brazilian. But Pacheco, who had bulked up and improved her game since their last meeting, came into the fight in form and ready, and she did enough to win three of the five rounds on each of the judges’ scorecards to earn scores of 48-47, 48-47, 48-47.
Harrison started well, but in Round 2 Pacheco showed that she was a different proposition as she stung Harrison with straight punches and had success in the scrambles on the mat.
It set up the remaining three rounds of the fight to be a classic, as the two fighters battled back and forth in the stand-up and on the mat, with Pacheco threatening with submissions in the scrambles, while Harrison looked to dominate top position and eventually move to a submission of her own.
But Pacheco was a flurry of constant movement off her back, either in her attempts to improve her position and escape, or by using attack as the best form of defense and looking to snatch submissions at various points through the bout.
By the time the final round had arrived, many observers online commented that the bout was likely level at 38-38, meaning the bout, and the title, hung in the balance.
And, in a back-and-forth round, it was Pacheco whose attempts to finish the fight gave her the edge as she claimed the decision win, the women’s lightweight title, and the $1 million prize cheque.
Pacheco’s win capped off a spectacular night in New York for the PFL, with the promotion’s CEO Peter Murray stating, “Tonight was a historic night for the PFL, our fighters, and MMA fans around the world.
“The 2022 PFL World Championship, live from Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, delivered thrilling action, six world title fights, and six $1 million dollar checks on MMA’s richest night.”
PFL president of fighter operations Ray Sefo also paid tribute to the fighters’ performances on the night.
“The 2022 PFL World Championship crowned six world champions from six different nations,” he said.
“From Larissa Pacheco’s amazing main event victory to Biaggio Ali-Walsh impressing in his PFL debut, the evening had something for every MMA fan.”