PFL 10 Report: Larissa Pacheco upsets Kayla Harrison. Six Champions crowned at the PFL’s 2022 season finale
The PFL returned on Friday night, holding their season finale card from the Hulu Theater in New York City, New York. This event marked the PFL’s first pay-per-view card, priced at $49.99 USD on ESPN+. The card featured the championship bouts for each PFL division, with the added bonus of each title bout victor earning an additional million-dollar prize. The main event featured the undefeated Kayla Harrison attempting to secure her third PFL title against the division’s other finalist, Larissa Pacheco, a fighter that Harrison has defeated twice previously. Along with the six championship bouts, this card notably featured the PFL debuts of two former UFC fighters, Aspen Ladd and Marlon Moraes. Ladd would face former Bellator Featherweight Champion, Julia Budd on the pay-per-view, while Moraes headlined the preliminary portion of the card against Sheymon Moraes. Sean O’Connell provided commentary for this card, alongside Kenny Florian and Randy Couture.
- Biaggio Ali Walsh def. Tom Graesser by TKO at 0:45 of Round 1
- Dakota Ditcheva def. Katherine Corogenes by KO at 4:20 of Round 1
- Magomed Magomedkerimov def. Gleison Tibau by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
- Natan Schulte def. Jeremy Stephens by arm triangle at 1:32 of Round 2
- Sheymon Moraes def. Marlon Moraes by TKO at 0:58 of Round 3
- Rob Wilkinson def. Omari Akhmedov by TKO at 5:00 of Round 2 to win the 2022 PFL Light Heavyweight Championship
- Sadibou Sy def. Dilano Taylor by unanimous decision (49-46 all) to win the 2022 PFL Welterweight Championship
- Olivier Aubin-Mercier def. Stevie Ray by KO at 4:40 of Round 2 to win the 2022 PFL Lightweight Championship
- Aspen Ladd def. Julia Budd by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
- Ante Delija def. Matheus Scheffel by TKO at 2:50 of Round 1 to win the 2022 PFL Heavyweight Championship
- Brendan Loughnane def. Bubba Jenkins by TKO at 2:38 of Round 4 to win the 2022 PFL Featherweight Championship
- Larissa Pacheco def. Kayla Harrison by unanimous decision (48-47 all) to win the 2022 PFL Lightweight Championship
DAKOTA DITCHEVA (6-0, 125.6) VS KATHERINE COROGENES (3-0, 124.3) – FLYWEIGHT
Ditcheva opened up with a front-kick attempt as she pressured forward. Corogenes attempted to grab a hold of Ditcheva, but she ate some big counterpunches in the process, and it was ultimately Ditcheva who wrapped Corogenes up in the clinch against the cage. Ditcheva was able to take Corogenes down, and she began to work from her guard with just under three minutes remaining in the round. Ditcheva landed a number of hammerfists before she chose to return to her feet. Corogenes caught a kick from Ditcheva and attempted to take her down, but was unsuccessful, and they wrestled against the cage until Ditcheva broke away. Ditcheva chased Corogenes down and knocked her out with a big right hand in the rounds final minute.
WINNER: Dakota Ditcheva by KO at 4:20 of Round 1
Ditcheva dominated this fight and was clearly miles ahead of Corogenes on the feet, and she quickly overwhelmed Corogenes with her kicks, knees, and strong counterpunches whenever Corogenes attempted to close the distance. Ditcheva fights at flyweight, which is not a division that the PFL currently has for female (or male) fighters, but they continuously mentioned her future in the company on commentary, so perhaps that is a division they will be adding next year. Ditcheva is now 2-0 in the PFL. Before the fight, Vitor Belfort was interviewed, and after the fight, Shane Burgos was cage-side for an interview. I only bring this up because I want you to keep track of the number of fighter interviews scattered throughout the undercard of this extremely lengthy broadcast.
MAGOMED MAGOMEDKERIMOV (29-6, 175.8) VS GLEISON TIBAU (37-16, 174.6) – CATCHWEIGHT
The fight was fairly slow-paced throughout the opening minutes, but Magomedkerimov began to pick it up as the round progressed, and soon pulled ahead of Tibau on the strike count. Tibau had a small number of strong counterpunches, but wasn’t really creating much offense for himself, and was losing this round based on activity as a result. Eventually, the broadcast just started to do a Tyron Woodley interview as the round played out. 10-9 Magomedkerimov.
They wrestled against the cage throughout the opening minute of round two, resulting in a stalemate. A short right hand from Magomedkerimov found its target as Tibau shot for a single leg, which was one of the better strikes of the fight to this point. Tibau’s eye was starting to swell up as the damage from Magomedkerimov’s strikes began to accumulate, and I thought this was a fairly clear round for Magomedkerimov based on damage and activity. 20-18 Magomedkerimov.
Tibau was nearly able to take Magomedkerimov down to begin the final round, but Magomedkerimov was able to use the cage to scramble to his feet. Tibau connected with a heavy left hand and defended a takedown attempt from Magomedkerimov. The fighters wrestled against the cage for some time, where Magomedkerimov landed numerous body shots. The fight went the distance, and I scored it 30-27 in favor of Magomedkerimov.
WINNER: Magomed Magomedkerimov by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
Magomedkerimov was the more active fighter, and Tibau’s lack of activity cost him in each round. It really was exactly what you’d expect from a Gleison Tibau fight, and I don’t say that in any sort of positive sense. That being said, he still has very solid takedown defense, and is dangerous on the counter, so he’s far from the easiest fighter to look impressive against. Magomedkerimov now holds a PFL record of 12-1 (he won the tournament in 2018, and was a finalist last year). After the bout, Georges St-Pierre was interviewed, as he gave his thoughts on Olivier Aubin Mercier’s fight against Stevie Ray.
NATAN SCHULTE (22-5-1, 155.4) VS JEREMY STEPHENS (29-20, 1 NC, 155.8) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Georges St-Pierre joined the commentary team for this fight, but it looked as though it would be a short night of work for him, as Schulte quickly took Stephens down, and he locked in an arm-triangle. Stephens was in deep trouble for an extended period of time, but he eventually managed to escape the submission, although he gave up his back in the process. Schulte tried to catch Stephens with a rear naked choke, but he lost his position, and Stephens escaped to his feet right before time expired.
Schulte immediately took Stephens back to the ground to begin the second round. Schulte went right back to the arm triangle, and this time he was able to secure the submission finish.
WINNER: Natan Schulte by arm triangle at 1:32 of Round 2
This was a very dominant performance from Schulte, who controlled the near entirety of this fight on the ground. At the start of both rounds, he was easily able to take Stephens to the ground, and from there, Schulte threatened submissions until he eventually secured the finish. It was a strong performance against an established name in the sport, and Schulte is now 13-2-1 in the PFL. After the bout, Georges St-Pierre handed his headset over to Frankie Edgar, who was briefly interviewed before joining the commentary team for the next bout.
SHEYMON MORAES (14-6, 145.8) VS MARLON MORAES (23-10-1, 146) – FEATHERWEIGHT
This was a rematch of a bout from December of 2015 at WSOF 22, where Marlon Moraes submitted Sheymon Moraes in the third round to retain his WSOF Bantamweight Championship.
Marlon landed an overhand left before taking Sheymon down roughly a minute into the bout. Sheymon escaped to his feet, and the fighters traded heavy hooks in the middle of the cage. Marlon was looking sharp, and Sheymon seemed to be having trouble dealing with his speed here. Marlon’s big hooks were doing a lot of damage, and that damage was showing on the face of Sheymon by the end of the round.
Dan Hardy was brought in to give his insight on the fight at the start of the second round. Marlon took Sheymon down just as he did at the start of round one, and this time, he was able to rack up a great deal of control time. With just under two minutes remaining in the round, Sheymon escaped to his feet, and he was able to defend a takedown attempt to stay on his feet. This was far from the most action-packed round, but it was a fairly clear one for Marlon Moraes.
Sheymon dropped Marlon with a heavy right hand in the opening minute of round three, and he swarmed Marlon with strikes on the ground until the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Sheymon Moraes by TKO at 0:58 of Round 3
Marlon actually looked quite solid throughout the first two rounds, but his skill set has never been in question, just his durability, and unfortunately, this fight ended in yet another knockout loss for Marlon, who had recently retired from the sport after being knocked out in five of his last six bouts. For his health, I hope that Marlon truly retires after this one, but there are very few permanent retirements in this sport. For Sheymon, this was a spectacular comeback victory after clearly losing the first two rounds, and he was able to avenge his loss to Marlon in a similar fashion to how Marlon originally beat him, with a third-round stoppage.
OMARI AKHMEDOV (24-7-1, 202.8) VS ROB WILKINSON (16-2, 204.6) – 2022 PFL LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Wilkinson pressured forward, looking to end this fight early. Wilkinson was connecting with some strong right hands, while Akhmedov attempted to keep him at range with leg kicks. Wilkinson was able to defend Akhmedov’s attempts to bring the fight to the ground, and his pressure continued to give Akhmedov a lot of issues. Wilkinson had his hands down, seemingly completely unconcerned by the threat of a counter from Akhmedov, as he continued to beat Akhmedov down, repeatedly finding a home for those heavy right hands, as well as a number of knees and uppercuts whenever Akhmedov shot. One of Wilkinson’s flurries dropped Akhmedov, and a flying knee dropped Akhmedov once more right before time expired in the round.
The fighters traded hands to begin round two. Wilkinson’s flurries were still giving Akhmedov trouble, and Akhmedov shot for a takedown out of desperation. Wilkinson defended the attempt, landed some ground-and-pound shots, and then returned to his feet. Wilkinson’s barrage of strikes continued, and it seemed as though Akhmedov was just hanging in there, but Wilkinson was not defending himself well, allowing Akhmedov to counter at points. At one point, the doctor was brought in to check on Akhmedov, who was bleeding heavily beneath his left eye, but it was determined that he could continue fighting. Referee Keith Peterson yelled at Akhmedov to fight back as Wilkinson unleashed an endless combination on Akhmedov against the cage, as Akhmedov was able to throw back just enough to keep the fight going.
The doctor was brought in once more to check on Akhmedov between rounds, and this time, it was determined that Akhmedov was unable to continue fighting, and the bout was stopped.
WINNER: Rob Wilkinson by TKO at 5:00 of Round 2 to win the 2022 PFL Light Heavyweight Championship
Akhmedov showcased a tremendous chin throughout this bout, but Wilkinson was just far too much for him here, overwhelming him with his pressure and output from the opening seconds of the bout until its eventual conclusion. It was a great performance from Wilkinson, who had a very entertaining run to the million-dollar prize this year, knocking out all four of his opponents. Wilkinson has compiled a record of 6-0 since losing to Israel Adesanya in 2018, and with this win Wilkinson became the first Australian fighter to win PFL gold.
DILANO TAYLOR (10-2, 169.4) VS SADIBOU SY (12-6-2, 1 NC, 169.6) – 2022 PFL WELTERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Sy opened up with a body kick as Taylor responded with a left hook. Sy was constantly circling the cage, making it difficult for Taylor to land his shots, as he wasn’t doing an effective job of cutting the cage. Sy threw a number of body shots throughout the round, but neither fighter was terribly active offensively. This was a tough round to score, but Sy’s slight advantage in activity may have given him the edge.
The second round continued to play out at a very slow pace. Taylor was finding more success than he did in the first round offensively, and eventually shot for a takedown, but the attempt was defended. Once again, this was a very hard round to score in favor of either fighter, as there was so little to separate the two, but Taylor may have done just enough to edge this one out.
Sy defended a takedown to begin the third round. Taylor was still struggling with Sy’s circling, and Sy continued to throw the majority of his kicks to the lead leg and body of Taylor. I have very little to say about this round that I didn’t say about either of the previous two rounds and once again, there were no significant moments for either fighter. By this point, I gave up on scoring this bout, but it seemed as though Sy was likely ahead on the scorecards going into the championship rounds.
Taylor was countered by a hook on his way in from Sy, which may have been the strongest shot landed to this point in the bout. Bare in mind, this strike landed roughly three minutes into the fourth round, Taylor was not hurt by the shot, and there wasn’t much to recap prior to this point in the round. Sy continued to attack the body with kicks. This was another round in his favor.
Taylor tried to make something happen in this fifth round, but Sy was a tough problem for him to solve, and there continued to be very little significant activity from either man. Mercifully, the fight eventually ended, and it seemed as though Sy would be the likely winner.
WINNER: Sadibou Sy by unanimous decision (49-46 all) to win the 2022 PFL Welterweight Championship
Sy’s movement and feints kept Taylor from amounting to much offense throughout the bout, and he was largely able to circle the cage while throwing out kicks to the body and lead leg of Taylor for twenty-five minutes. Sy’s counters were strong when Taylor attempted to close the distance, and that led to a fight with very few moments of significance. I thought this fight was extremely dull, and if not for Esparza/Namajunas 2, this may very well have been the front-runner for the worst fight of the year. Regardless of the fight’s quality, this was a huge moment for Sy in his fourth PFL season, finally taking home the million-dollar prize as well as the 2022 PFL Welterweight Championship.
STEVIE RAY (25-10, 154.6) VS OLIVIER AUBIN-MERCIER (16-5, 154.6) – 2022 PFL LIGHTWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Ray attempted to ground Aubin-Mercier with a body lock early in the bout, but Aubin-Mercier’s takedown defense held up well, and the fight continued to play out on the feet. Aubin-Mercier landed a number of leg kicks, eventually sweeping one of Ray’s legs out from under him. The low kicks from Aubin-Mercier continued to add up throughout the round, and the damage that Ray sustained from them likely earned Aubin-Mercier the round.
Ray caught a kick from Aubin-Mercier, and he was able to throw Aubin-Mercier down to the ground just moments later. Ray worked from the back of Aubin-Mercier, looking to sink in a rear naked choke, but Aubin-Mercier was able to escape with ninety seconds remaining in the round. After partially landing a head kick, Aubin-Mercier landed a perfect right hook over the guard of Ray, knocking Ray out cold.
WINNER: Olivier Aubin-Mercier by KO at 4:40 of Round 2 to win the 2022 PFL Lightweight Championship
This was a tremendous knockout and one that I don’t think anyone saw coming. Aubin-Mercier was certainly favored to win this fight, but he isn’t exactly known as a knockout artist, and to knock Stevie Ray out in such a brutal fashion was quite the dramatic finish to this fight after losing the majority of the second round. Aubin-Mercier has compiled a record of 6-0 in the PFL, which is quite the way to bounce back after a 0-3 stretch to end his run in the UFC. In his post-fight interview, Aubin-Mercier emphasized his desire to bring the PFL to Quebec.
JULIA BUDD (16-4, 146) VS ASPEN LADD (9-3, 145.4) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Budd pressured forward to begin the fight, but a kick attempt was caught by Ladd, who took Budd to the ground. Ladd took the back of Budd, where she flattened Budd out and began to throw down hooks from Budd’s back. Eventually, Budd was able to scramble into top position, but Ladd powered her way back on top, ending the round in an advantageous position. 10-9 Ladd.
The fighters battled in the clinch in the second round, where Budd landed numerous knees to the body. After nearly four minutes spent in this position, Ladd committed to a single leg attempt, but Budd’s takedown defense held up, and she continued to attack the body with knees. I thought this was a clear round for Budd, but the live odds were massively in the favour of Ladd going into the final round. 19-19.
Ladd came out swinging in the third round, as Budd attempted to trap her in the clinch once more. Budd defended a takedown attempt as she continued to throw knees to the body of Ladd. Both Ladd and Budd found a similar level of success when they traded from distance, but Ladd was the fighter pressing forward, which is typically a good look for the judges. Budd’s takedown defense continued to hold up late in the round, and the fighters wrestled against the cage to end the fight, with some late strikes landed by both fighters. 29-28 Budd.
WINNER: Aspen Ladd by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
I scored the bout for Budd, but it was a very close fight. Budd’s knees to the body were the story of the final two rounds for me, landing them constantly to great effect, but Ladd’s forward pressure was constant as well, never giving Budd room to get comfortable. In the end, Ladd’s arm was raised, and the fight was close enough that I don’t think anyone will be particularly upset by the outcome. This marked Ladd’s PFL debut, and she is now 2-3 throughout her last five fights.
ANTE DELIJA (22-5, 241.8) VS MATHEUS SCHEFFEL (17-8, 254.2) – 2022 PFL HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Delija shot for a takedown early in the bout, but the attempt was defended by Scheffel. A left hook from Delija rocked Scheffel, and he proceeded to swarm Scheffel with shots against the cage until Scheffel went down, putting a quick end to this championship bout.
WINNER: Ante Delija by TKO at 2:50 of Round 1 to win the 2022 PFL Heavyweight Championship
Last year, Delija made his PFL debut and was stopped by Bruno Cappelozza in his first bout. He would go on to make it to the heavyweight finals despite his early loss and would end up facing Cappelozza once more, this time for the championship. Once again, Cappelozza defeated Delija, but this time, Delija was able to go the distance with Cappelozza, and in 2022, Delija responded with his strongest year to date, going 4-0 in the competition on his way to the championship victory. It was a strong performance, with Delija immediately capitalizing after landing a big shot, finishing Scheffel in the first round to secure the million-dollar prize. Delija’s PFL record now stands at 6-2.
BRENDAN LOUGHNANE (24-4, 144.8) VS BUBBA JENKINS (19-5, 145) – 2022 PFL FEATHERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Jenkins landed the first big shot of the fight, a strong right hook that he followed up with a takedown attempt. Loughnane was able to stay on his feet, but Jenkins did not give up on the attempt, as he continued to chase after a single leg for some time. Eventually, the fighters separated, and Loughnane landed a number of strong leg kicks to the lead leg of Jenkins. Jenkins connected with another strong hook to end the opening round.
The fighters traded heavy combinations to begin the second round, with Loughnane seemingly landing the better shots. Jenkins’ lead leg seemed to be in rough shape, and Loughnane was able to defend his attempts to get the fight to the ground. Still, Jenkins was throwing with power, and I thought his jab in particular was very effective whenever he landed it. Near the end of the round, a kick from Loughnane landed low, and Jenkins was given time to recover from the shot as Loughnane yelled at him to continue fighting. Loughnane landed a big body kick before time expired.
Loughnane threw a number of kicks to the lead leg and body of Jenkins to begin the third round, and Jenkins responded with a hard jab. Jenkins switched stances in an attempt to relieve the attack on his leg, but Loughnane just started to pick apart the other leg, further impacting Jenkins’ movement. Despite being somewhat of a stationary fighter, Jenkins was still finding some success with his hands, but he was unable to utilize his wrestling to take Loughnane out of his comfort zone. Loughnane really started to tee off on Jenkins towards the end of the round, but Jenkins was able to stay on his feet and make it out of the round.
Jenkins caught a kick from Loughnane a minute into the fourth round, and he desperately tried to drag Loughnane to the ground, but Loughnane’s takedown defense continued to hold up. A right hand from Loughnane rocked Jenkins badly, and Loughnane swarmed him with strikes as Jenkins attempted to pick himself back up, and the fight was stopped as Loughnane landed a big knee.
WINNER: Brendan Loughnane by TKO at 2:38 of Round 4 to win the 2022 PFL Featherweight Championship
The leg kicks from Loughnane quickly shut Jenkins down, and while Jenkins still found some success with his boxing, this turned into what was largely a one-sided fight in favor of Brendan Loughnane. It was a tremendous performance against one of the stronger wrestlers in the division, and he showcased some very solid takedown defense throughout the bout. I thought he came off very well in his post-fight interview, and he could very well be one of the fighters that the company tries to market in the future (something they really only do for Kayla Harrison and to a lesser extent, their established UFC names). Loughnane now holds a record of 8-1 in the PFL, with that one loss coming by split decision to Movlid Khaybulaev, who won the tournament last year (and did not compete this year).
KAYLA HARRISON (15-0, 154.4) VS LARISSA PACHECO (18-4, 154.2) – PFL LIGHTWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Harrison fired off leg kicks in the opening minute, as Pacheco looked to counter with a big right hand. Harrison closed the distance and quickly took Pacheco down, where she began to work from the guard of Pacheco. Harrison landed strong ground and pound shots for the next few minutes, easily taking this round on the scorecards. 10-9 Harrison.
Pacheco kicked one of Harrison’s leg out from under her to begin the second round, and Harrison responded with a big left hand. Pacheco was able to defend a takedown attempt from Harrison but was pressed up against the cage, where Harrison chased after a single leg. Pacheco threatened a guillotine choke, which made Harrison give up the position, and the fighters returned to the fence where they continued to wrestle. The fighters broke apart, but Pacheco was beginning to look a bit tired, which wasn’t surprising considering her last five fights had all ended in the first round. Pacheco landed some hard shots, backing Harrison up, but Harrison was able to bring things back to the ground before Pacheco could threaten a finish. 19-19.
Harrison immediately went after a single leg in the third round, and she was able to take Pacheco down despite a number of hammerfists from Pacheco. Pacheco threw up a triangle choke off of her back, and she started squeezing as Harrison attempted to defend the submission attempt. Pacheco transitioned to an armbar, but Harrison was able to escape, and Harrison passed into full mount with ninety seconds remaining in the bout. Harrison was working for an arm triangle, but could not secure the submission or the TKO finish from her ground and pound strikes before time expired. 29-28 Harrison.
Both fighters were looking tired going into the championship rounds. The fighters traded hands before Pacheco defended a takedown attempt. Harrison shot in for a double leg, and once again Pacheco attempted to counter with a guillotine choke, but her positioning was off, and Harrison took top position. Pacheco escape to her feet before sprawling on a takedown attempt, and she attempted to transition to the back of Harrison with just over three minutes remaining in the round. Harrison spun into top position, but once again, Pacheco was able to escape to her feet. Harrison did not let her separate, however, and the fighters continued to wrestle against the cage. There was another scramble that resulted in Pacheco taking top position. Pacheco landed some strong shots to the body and caught Harrison with a series of right hands before time expired in the round. 38-38.
Harrison pressed Pacheco into the cage to begin the final round, as both fighters looked for a takedown. Harrison landed some strong knees but ate a number of hard hammerfists as she chased after a single leg. Despite the numerous hard strikes from Pacheco, Harrison continued to look for the takedown, and Pacheco eventually took top position, where she landed a number of strikes before taking Harrisons back. Once again, Harrison rolled over into top position, but it was Pacheco who continued to land from her back far more than Harrison was from top position. The fight went the distance, and I scored the bout 48-47 Pacheco.
WINNER: Larissa Pacheco by unanimous decision (48-47 all) to win the 2022 PFL Lightweight Championship
Harrison had yet to have a truly competitive bout in her career, including her two prior bouts with Pacheco, but Pacheco has evolved as a fighter since their bouts in 2019. As Harrison noted before the bout, Pacheco is physically a much stronger fighter now, and you could see that in her takedown defense, as well as her ability to return to her feet at several key moments throughout the bout when Harrison was able to take her down. While Harrison displayed some solid striking throughout the bout, Pacheco was clearly a level above her on the feet, and whenever she flurried forward, Harrison was taking significant damage. Perhaps the factor that ultimately decided this fight, however, was Pacheco’s activity on the ground. Pacheco was rarely content to be idle on the ground, constantly throwing hammer fists while attempting submissions. It was this activity that earned her the final round despite Harrison’s control time, and that ultimately decided this fight. This will likely be remembered as the upset of the year, and it will be interesting to see if both fighters will be tournament competitors once again next year, or if Harrison and the PFL have something different in mind coming out of this one.