The women’s featherweight and men’s heavyweight were on show in Las Vegas at PFL 2 as a pair of big finishes propelled Amber Leibrock and Bruno Cappelozza to the top of their respective standings.
American Amber Leibrock delivered an early statement of intent with a stunning first-round head-kick finish of Martina Jindrova to take an early advantage in the women’s 145-pound season.
Leibrock used her range to keep Jindrova at distance, and shocked her Czech opponent with a perfectly-timed head kick to send her opponent down to the canvas. Leibrock quickly followed her to the man and unloaded a barrage of hammerfists to force referee Jason Herzog to wave off the contest after just two minutes 19 seconds.
The night’s opening bout saw Russian hopeful Marina Mokhnatkina claim a “Fast Five” with a second-round TKO finish of Japan’s Yoko Higashi to claim the night’s only other featherweight finish.
Mokhnatkina overwhelmed Higashi early on in the matchup, and eventually earned the stoppage win after taking the action to the canvas and moving to the crucifix position before raining down elbows and punches to force the TKO victory.
The headline bout saw 2022 lightweight queen Larissa Pacheco face former Bellator featherweight champion Julia Budd in a battle between two of the pre-season favorites, and it was Pacheco who emerged victorious after their bout went all the way to the scorecards.
Pacheco got her season off to a winning start with a strong performance to earn scores of 30-27, 30-27, 29-28 and put herself among the night’s featherweight winners.
One fighter many would have expected to join her was former UFC women’s bantamweight contender Aspen Ladd, but her PFL debut ended in defeat to 2022 lightweight semi-finalist Olena Kolesnyk.
In a closely-contested bout, Kolesnyk edged a majority decision, with the scorecards reading 28-28, 29-28, 29-28 to give the Ukrainian the victory. However, due to Kolesnyk missing weight on Thursday, her three-pount haul was reduced to two points.
Elsewhere at featherweight, undefeated 4-0 prospects faced off as Brazil’s Evelyn Martins and Poland’s Karolina Sobek went toe to toe in a battle that went all the way to the judges’ scorecards.
Despite Sobek’s faster start, Martins rallied well and took over in Rounds 2 and 3 to get the unanimous decision win and cap off a remarkable couple of months for the 20-year-old, who earned a PFL contract after claiming back-to-back victories in the PFL Challenger Series, then stepped in on short notice to defeat Sobek and pick up three points to get her debut PFL regular season off to a winning start.
In the night’s co-main event, 2021 PFL heavyweight champion Bruno Cappelozza blasted his way to the top of the men’s heavyweight standings as he exacted revenge on his former nemesis Matheus Scheffel.
Scheffel defeated Cappelozza via decision in the 2022 regular season, but Cappelozza was in no mood to hang around for the judges’ decision this time around as he started fast and finished Scheffel in just 135 seconds to register maximum points with a “Quick Six” first-round TKO.
The night’s other heavyweight finish came from former UFC campaigner Maurice Greene, as “The Crochet Boss” produced a second-round TKO stoppage of Marcelo Nunes.
Greene looked in superb form as he showcased his striking to stop Nunes and earn a “Fast Five” bonus to place him second in the heavyweight standings heading into the second round of regular season bouts.
The remaining heavyweight bouts went the distance, with Russia’s Rizvan Kuniev and Brazil’s Danilo Marques both picking up unanimous decision victories over Renan Ferreira and Yorgan De Castro respectively to make solid starts to their respective seasons.
PFL 2023: Round 2 – Official results
- Larissa Pacheco def. Julia Budd via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)
- Bruno Cappelozza def. Matheus Scheffel via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 2:15
- Olena Kolesnyk def. Aspen Ladd via majority decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Biaggio Ali Walsh def. Isaiah Figueroa via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 1:42
- Rizvan Kuniev def. Renan Ferreira via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Maurice Greene def. Marcelo Nunes via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 1:20
- Danilo Marques def. Yorgan De Castro via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Amber Leibrock def. Martina Jindrova via knockout (head kick and hammerfists) – Round 1, 2:19
- Evelyn Martins def. Karolina Sobek via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Marina Mokhnatkina def. Yoko Higashi via TKO (ground strikes) – Round 2, 1:29
PFL Regular Season standings
- Amber Leibrock – 6
- Marina Mokhnatkina – 5
- Larissa Pacheco – 3
- Evelyn Martins – 3
- Olena Kolesnyk – 2
- Aspen Ladd – 0
- Karolina Sobek – 0
- Julia Budd – 0
- Yoko Higashi – 0
- Martina Jindrova – 0
- Bruno Cappelozza – 6
- Maurice Greene – 5
- Danilo Marques – 3
- Rizvan Kuniev – 3
- Renan Ferreira – 0
- Yorgan De Castro – 0
- Marcelo Nunes – 0
- Matheus Scheffel – 0