PFL 3 Report: Kayla Harrison defeats Marina Mokhnatkina, Anthony Pettis and Rory MacDonald pick up first-round finishes

Eric Marcotte's PFL report feat. Kayla Harrison's first fight of the season, Anthony Pettis and Rory MacDonald secure first-round wins & more.

Photo Courtesy: PFL, ESPN

PFL 3 Report: Kayla Harrison defeats Marina Mokhnatkina, Anthony Pettis and Rory MacDonald pick up first-round finishes

By: Eric Marcotte

On Friday night, the PFL held their third card of the year at the Esports Stadium Arlington in Arlington, Texas. This card largely consisted of fighters in the welterweight and women’s lightweight divisions but featured a men’s lightweight bout between Anthony Pettis and Myles Price as well. The main event saw two-time PFL champion, Kayla Harrison, face Marina Mokhnatkina, in a matchup that Harrison was heavily favored in. The two welterweight bouts on the main card saw former UFC title challenger Rory MacDonald matched up against Brett Cooper, and Carlos Leal facing off against two-time PFL Champion, Ray Cooper III. The commentary team for this event consisted of Sean O’Connell, Kenny Florian, and Randy Couture.

To quickly recap the PFL’s “league” structure: The PFL implements a unique scoring system. A win earns you three points, and you have the opportunity to gain bonus points depending on the way in which you win the fight. If a fighter were to get a finish in the first round, they would earn a total of three bonus points (resulting in a grand total of six points from that win). A second-round finish would earn a total of five points, a third-round finish would result in a total of four points, and a decision win would simply award the standard three. A draw or a no-contest results in one point gained for each fighter. The four fighters from each division with the most points accumulated throughout the season will earn spots in their division’s playoff bracket, and the fighter that emerges victorious in each division’s bracket earns a million-dollar prize.



*Martina Jindrová def. Vanessa Melo by unanimous decision (30–27 all)

*Olena Kolesnyk def. Abigail Montes by split decision (30–27, 29–28, 28–29)

*Jarrah Al Silawi def. Gleison Tibau by split decision (30–27, 29–28, 28–29)

*Sadibou Sy def. Nikolai Aleksakhin by split decision (30–27, 29–28, 28–29)

*Genah Fabian def. Julia Budd by unanimous decision (29–28 all)

*Dilano Taylor def. João Zeferino by split decision (29–28, 29–28, 28–29)


*Larissa Pacheco def. Zamzagul Fayzallanova by TKO at 1:25 of Round 1

*Rory MacDonald def. Brett Cooper by rear-naked choke at 2:23 of Round 1

*Anthony Pettis def. Myles Price by triangle choke at 4:17 of Round 1

*Carlos Leal def. Ray Cooper III by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 29-27)

*Kayla Harrison def. Marina Mokhnatkina by unanimous decision (30-27 all)


Pacheco caught Fayzallanova with a heavy right hand early, and immediately pressured forwards as she attempted to finish the fight. Fayzallanova survived Pacheco’s early attack, but Pacheco didn’t let up, and eventually dopped her with another right hand, before swarming Fayzallanova with strikes against the cage to end the fight.

WINNER: Larissa Pacheco by TKO at 1:25 of Round 1 (6 PTS)

Pacheco was a massive favorite going into the fight, and she made good on those odds with this performance. Pacheco hits with a lot of power, and from the first punch landed, you could tell that there was a good chance that this fight would be over quickly. This quick stoppage earned Pacheco six points, and as it stands, she sits at top of the women’s lightweight division. A weight miss in the playoff portion eliminated Pacheco from last year’s tournament, but two first-round knockouts in last year’s regular-season portion put Pacheco at the top of the division last year as well, so there is no denying her legitimacy as a top lightweight at this point. That being said, her two losses in the PFL have both come to Kayla Harrison, and that will be a huge hurdle to overcome for anybody in the division, even somebody with the power of Larissa Pacheco. Her overall PFL record now stands at 5-2.

RORY MACDONALD (22-8-1, 171, 0 PTS) VS BRETT COOPER (28-15, 169.8, 0 PTS) – WELTERWEIGHT

MacDonald took Cooper down with a single leg just seconds into the fight, where he began to work from side control. It wasn’t long before MacDonald took the back of Cooper, and he proceeded to lock in a rear-naked choke, forcing Cooper to submit.

WINNER: Rory MacDonald by rear-naked choke at 2:23 of Round 1 (6 PTS)

This was a very dominant performance from Rory MacDonald, who had zero difficulties in slicing through Cooper’s guard and securing the quick finish. MacDonald’s 2021 PFL outing would be best described as underwhelming, winning his first bout against Curtis Millender, before dropping bouts to Gleison Tibau and Ray Cooper III, so this was a welcome return to form for the former UFC title challenger. This first-round submission moved MacDonald to the top of the welterweight standings, as he was the lone fighter in the division to finish his opponent.

ANTHONY PETTIS (24-12, 155.4, 0 PTS) VS MYLES PRICE (11-7, 154.8, 0 PTS) – LIGHTWEIGHT

Pettis dodged a takedown attempt, and caught Price with an uppercut on his way up, allowing him to take top position on the ground. Pettis was active enough with short ground and pound strikes to maintain his position, but was unable to advance until Price attempted to grab a single leg from the bottom position, which created a scramble that nearly resulted in Pettis taking his back. It was ultimately Price who found his way on top, but Pettis instantly locked in a triangle choke, forcing Price to submit.

WINNER: Anthony Pettis by triangle choke at 4:17 of Round 1 (6 PTS)

Anthony Pettis has always been a fun fighter to watch on the ground, and this was no exception. He is remarkably creative, and attacks submissions constantly, which is a formula that resulted in six points gained for Showtime with his first-round submission victory here. Pettis was another fighter who had a disappointing run in the 2021 PFL season, losing both of his bouts by decision, but this was a great way to get back on track for the former UFC and WEC Lightweight Champion. This marked the final opening bout for the men’s lightweight division, and Pettis will stand at the top of the division going into the second portion of regular-season bouts later this year.

RAY COOPER III (24-7-1, 176.4, -1 PTS) VS CARLOS LEAL (16-3, 169.6, 0 PTS) – WELTERWEIGHT

Ray Cooper III missed weight by 5.4lbs, and was thus ineligible to earn points with a victory here, and was deducted a point as well, putting him into the negative point totals to start the season.

Leal caught Cooper with a hook as he worked his way into the clinch, but Cooper powered through it regardless, and the fighters wrestled against the cage to a standstill. Leal outlanded Cooper in the clinch, throwing numerous knees to the body, as well as several shoulder strikes. With ninety seconds remaining in the round, the fighters separated, but Cooper was unable to make up ground, and Leal ended the round strongly. 10-9 Leal.

Leal continued to give Cooper problems on the feet in the second round, and he was able to defend a deep takedown attempt from Cooper in an impressive fashion. Leal landed a shot that hurt Cooper, prompting him to shoot for a single leg in desperation, but Leal defended successfully and caught Cooper with a knee to the head before disengaging. Leal put a beating on the lead leg of Cooper throughout the round, and Cooper seemed to be having difficulties putting weight on it by the time the round reached its conclusion. 20-18 Leal.

Leal basically dropped Cooper with a body shot seconds into the final round, and attempted to finish the fight with ground and pound against the cage, but Cooper was able to grab a single leg, and he bought himself a bit of time to recover. He picked himself up against the cage, but Cooper was just eating shot after shot, and the commentary team was openly questioning why this fight wasn’t being stopped, as Cooper was barely defending himself. Still, Cooper showed off incredible toughness, and he remained in the fight, even attempting a guillotine choke at one point when the opportunity presented itself. Leal was clearly exhausted by the final minute of the round, and Cooper attempted to mount a comeback, but time ran out on him, and the fight went the distance. 30-27 Leal.

WINNER: Carlos Leal by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 29-27) (3 PTS)

Ray Cooper III has consistently been one of the top fighters throughout the PFL’s three seasons, winning the million-dollar prize twice, and losing in the finals once. For a fighter of that caliber, this was an uncharacteristically poor showing. He missed weight drastically on Thursday, and that coupled with his performance in this bout (at least his performance throughout the first thirteen minutes), I have to wonder if he was facing a significant injury coming into the fight. If so, I imagine that will be revealed soon, but either way, this was an excellent performance from Carlos Leal, who was a sizeable underdog heading into this bout. Leal is currently riding an eleven-fight win streak, that dates all the way back to 2015, and this decision win leaves him tied with three other fighters for second place in the welterweight division, with only Rory MacDonald ahead of the pack, as he was the only welterweight to finish his opponent.


It took Harrison roughly a minute to bring this fight to the ground. Mokhnatkina picked herself up along the cage, but couldn’t create any separation, and Harrison chipped away at her with strikes against the cage. Mokhnatkina eventually opted to roll for a kneebar, but Harrison was wise to it, and took Mokhnatkina’s back with about a minute remaining in the round. Mokhnatkina escaped to her feet before time expired. 10-9 Harrison.

Harrison tripped Mokhnatkina to the ground early in the second round, but Mokhnatkina quickly worked her way back to her feet. Mokhnatkina continued to actively pursue kneebars, but Harrison’s defense was solid, and she was able to land solid ground and pound strikes from top position. Harrison worked her way onto the back of Mokhnatkina once again, but Mokhnatkina was able to escape before the round reached its conclusion (with the assistance of a cage grab, that referee Keith Peterson gave her a warning for). 20-18 Harrison.

It did not take Harrison long to bring the fight back to the ground in the final round. Mokhnatkina showcased solid defense on the ground and was able to escape to her feet, but Harrison remained in control of the action, pressing Mokhnatkina against the cage. They separated with a minute remaining in the bout, but neither fighter did much of substance before the final bell sounded. 30-27 Harrison.

WINNER: Kayla Harrison by unanimous decision (30-27 all) (3 PTS)

In her post-fight interview, Harrison expressed disappointment in regards to her performance here, but she clearly won every round of this fight, and as Sean O’Connell stated, racked up some valuable cage time in the process. Mokhnatkina became the second fighter to go the distance with Harrison, with the other fighter being Larissa Pacheco, who secured the first-round finish earlier on this card. As it stands, Pacheco sits at the top of the women’s lightweight division with six points, while Harrison is tied for second place with the two other lightweights who won their respective bouts by decision, as well as Julia Budd, who was awarded three points despite her loss, as her opponent missed weight. Harrison improved to 13-0 professionally with this win, with all but one of those bouts taking place in the PFL.

About Eric Marcotte 189 Articles
A graduate of Laurentian University, Eric reports on Mixed Martial Arts at POST Wrestling.