PFL World Championship Finals 2023 results: Aubin-Mercier and Pacheco repeat, Kasanganay, Pinedo win gold

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Olivier Aubin-Mercier - PFL

It was a big week for the Professional Fighters League. After announcing the purchase of Bellator MMA, the promotion held its championship finals event at The Anthem in Washington, D.C. Fighters squared off to determine who was best in their respective divisions. By the end of the night, six champions were crowned and had earned a $1 million payday. 

The night was full of quick finishes, big knockouts, and gutsy performances.

In the main event, Olivier Aubin-Mercier beat the dangerous Clay Collard via unanimous decision to become a two-time PFL lightweight champion. Aubin-Mercier managed to neutralize Collard's power throughout and fought through leg kicks that affected his ability to walk. However, Collard couldn’t take advantage, even with 41 of his 129 strikes landed being leg kicks. Aubin-Mercier landed five takedowns, which was enough to win the fight.

MORE: All you need to know about the PFL's acquisition of Bellator

“The Canadian Gangster” has won ten in a row. He said he would take a break from combat sports after the fight and teased retirement.

Renan Ferreira beat Denis Goltsov in the co-main event to become the PFL heavyweight champion. Ferreira was suffocated in round one but bounced back in round two with huge rights to take Goltsov down. The Brazilian could now face Bellator heavyweight champion Ryan Bader or Francis Ngannou next. 

History was made in the PFL SmartCage, as Larissa Pacheco became the first two-division champion in PFL history. Pacheco, who beat Kayla Harrison in the lightweight tournament last year, beat Marina Mokhnatkina to become the 2023 featherweight champion.

The fight went the distance, which wasn’t expected by many. A game Mokhnatkina brought it to Pacheco and almost ended the fight with a kneebar. However, Pacheco used her power (landing 155 of 203 shots) to hurt Mokhnatkina and win via unanimous decision.

PFL owner Donn Davis stated that Pacheco would face Bellator champion Cris Cyborg next. A fight between Cyborg and Kayla Harrison has been teased for months, but he wants to stick with champion vs. champion. 

In a rematch from the 2021 PFL welterweight semi-finals, Magomed Magomedkerimov defeated Sadibou Sy via submission. Magomedkerimov landed several crisp shots and two takedowns, as Sy tried to be creative and go for several knockout shots. Magomedkerimov went 2-0 against Sy to become a two-time welterweight champion.

He’s expected to face new Bellator champion Jason Jackson next.

MORE: Breaking down the purse and salary history of PFL fighters

Impa Kasanganay was cool, calm, and collected while outstriking Josh Silveira to become the PFL light heavyweight champion. In 2020, Impa became viral following a brutal knockout loss to Joaquin Buckley. However, he was the better man on this night in a bout between American Top Team and Kill Cliff. It was a shutout, with Kasanganay landing 112 of 255 shots (76 for 180 for Silveira). He avoided several takedowns and enhanced his win streak to six. 

At one point during the Contender Series years ago, UFC CEO Dana White said, "If one of these other organizations signs him (Kasanganay), he could be top five in the world or world champion one day." He was right. Kasanganay called out Bellator light heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov after his easy win. 

The first championship fight of the night saw Jesus Pinedo beat Gabriel Braga to win the featherweight tournament. Pinedo, who lost against Braga to open the year, avenged that loss by TKO. It was considered an early stoppage, but Pinedo appeared to be getting hot just prior to the bout concluding.

Following the contest, Pinedo squared up against Bellator featherweight champion Patricio Freire. 

Also on the PFL card, Kayla Harrison returned following a year out. She easily beat Aspen Ladd, who replaced Julia Budd. Meanwhile, former champion Ray Cooper III had ring rust against Derek Brunson, the former UFC fighter who made his PFL debut. "Blonde Brunson" got the win against Cooper, who missed weight before the fight. 

The Sporting News provided results and highlights from the PFL World Championship Finals. Check it out!

MORE: Ranked: The 25 best MMA fighters under the age of 25

2023 PFL World Championship Finals results, highlights

Olivier Aubin-Mercier neutralizes Clay Collard to repeat as PFL champion

Round five: Collard started with hard shots and OAM avoided more shots with a big takedown. On his back, OAM tried to submit Collard. The crowd does not want Collard to lose here. OAM with a rear-naked choke with more than two minutes left. OAM won't let Collard get up. OAM got the win to repeat as a PFL champion.

SN unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Aubin-Mercier (49-46 Aubin-Mercier)

Round four: Leg kicks by both to start, as OAM's leg look as red as his shorts. Collard with counter rights and he becomes the aggressor. He avoids a takedown and lands crisp shots. Another takedown avoided, and Collard had full control of the exchanges. By the cage, Collard landed body shots. He then landed uppercuts and tripped from a leg shot. Collard wanted to bring the pain to OAM, landing more body shots. 

SN unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Collard (39-37 Aubin-Mercier)

Round three: Collard tried to land sharp blows to stop OAM's movement. A takedown attempt was countered into a Collard hook. OAM finally got a takedown. Collard managed to get up, if only for a moment. Back up, Collard stomped on OAM's feet while the latter planned his next move. Collard ripped the body with shots and landed combinations. 

SN unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Aubin-Mercier (30-27 Aubin-Mercier)

Round two: Collard tried to land combinations to start. High kick by OAM landed a counter hook. Collard landed body shots and avoided a takedown. OAM looked hurt as he attempted that takedown. The boxer Collard landed body shots on the inside but OAM countered with a takedown. On Collard's back, OAM smothered Collard. 

SN unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Aubin-Mercier (20-18 Aubin-Mercier)

Round one: Collard landed a leg kick to start. He landed jabs and used his boxing defense to avoid being hit. Both traded leg kicks. OAM with a kick to the stomach. Sharp right hands by Collard followed by a leg kick by OAM and a takedown. He drove Collard on his head on the mat and ragdolled him around the cage. OAM tried for the rear-naked choke. Collard reversed and attempted a leglock. Again on the back, OAM landed clean shots to a defenseless Collard. 

SN unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Aubin-Mercier

The main event is next: 2022 winner Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Clay Collard. OAM has called for retirement after this fight. Will that affect his mindset? Collard has been the MVP for PFL this year, and was in the Top Rank Bubble. Can he get the big win?

Heavyweight power: Renan Ferreira bounces back with knockout win against Denis Goltsov

Round two: Ferreira landed quick shots that dropped Goltsov right away. The referee called the fight off and Ferreira got the win. One right changed the result of the fight. 

Round one: The action was hot right awayGoltsov went for the takedown after going against the cage. He trapped Ferreira's arm in an attempt to submit him. Goltsov continued to have control time and did not let up through the round. 

SN unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Goltsov

Heavyweights are in action next, as Renan Ferreira faces Denis Goltsov. 

Larissa Pacheco becomes two-division PFL champion with win over Marina Mokhnatkina

Round five: Pacheco hammered away when Mokhnatkina tried for a takedown. Low leg kick by Pacheco. Big right by Pacheco and a high kick. Mokhnatkina did catch her there and ended up on top while on the floor. Mokhnatkina landed with some clubbing blows for her first real shot since the kneebar. She held control until the last bell, which didn't matter in the long run. Pacheco becomes the first two-division PFL champion. 

SN unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Mokhnatkina (49-46 Pacheco)

Round four: A right hand by Pacheco connected. Mokhnatkina landed a leg kick and a jab. Pacheco tossed her on the floor and landed a triangle. Reversed, Mokhnatkina landed another leg submission, this time a heel hook. Back up, they exchanged shots. Pacheco landed a big right, and when Mokhnatkina went to take her down, Pacheco countered. The pace slowed way down as the two were getting tired. 

SN unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Pacheco (40-36 Pacheco)

Round three: Pacheco landed combinations as Mokhnatkina tried to land spinning shots. Big knee by Pacheco, who later landed additional combinations. She almost knocked Mokhnatkina out with a big knee when the latter was going for a takedown. Guillotine attempt was blocked by Pacheco, who ended up on top. On top, Pacheco landed hammerfists. 

SN unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Pacheco (30-27 Pacheco)

Round two: Mokhnatkina tried to grab the leg to open round two, but Pacheco avoided the ground game. The latter landed combinations when the pace slowed. Pacheco landed a big right and continued to counter all of Mokhnatkina's shots. A nice takedown by Mokhnatkina, and Pacheco attempted the guillotine. Referee forced the action back on the feet and Pacheco lands rights. 

SN unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Pacheco (20-18 Pacheco)

Round one: Pacheco landed a right hand to start the fight. She then hit combinations that hurt Mokhnatkina. Mokhnatkina went for a takedown but Pacheco blocked it. Leg kick and Mokhnatkina was running away. Combinations by Pacheco land. A big right by Pacheco connected followed by a left. Mokhnatkina caught her leg and held her by the cage. Pacheco with a standing guillotine, but Mokhnatkina countered with a kneebar. Wow! After a few seconds of worrying, Pacheco got up top and began pounding away. 

SN unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Pacheco

2022 lightweight champion Larissa Pacheco, now fighting in a new division, faces Marina Mokhnatkina in featherweight action. 

Magomed Magomedkerimov goes 2-0 against Sadibou Sy, becomes a two-time PFL champion

Round three: Sy with a kick to the chest. He tried another kick but slipped. Straight rights by Magomedkerimov and then a guillotine attempt. He got the tap. Magomedkerimov goes 2-0 against Sadibou Sy and is a two-time PFL champion

Round two: Big right hand by Magomedkerimov to start round two. Sy with a kick that affected his balance. Magomedkerimov tried for a takedown, including a spinning body lock, which Sy avoided. Knee by Sy but Magomedkerimov countered with a right. Magomedkerimov caught Sy's leg and landed a takedown, but Sy got right back up. Sy with a few leg kicks. Right hands by Magomedkerimov connect, as he attempted to land a left hook. 

SN unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Magomedkerimov (20-18 Magomedkerimov)

Round one: Sy landed a kick to the chest but Magomedkerimov rushed after him to attempt a takedown. It was a stalemate at the feet until Magomedkerimov landed the takedown. Back on their feet, Sy tried to push Magomedkerimov off him. He landed a left as Magomedkerimov went for another takedown. Magomedkerimov with a shot to the face, which Sy brushed off. Big right from Magomedkerimov. Sy tried to halt his momentum with a hold. 

SN unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Magomedkerimov

Up next is Magomed Magomedkerimov vs. Sadibou Sy in welterweight action. This is a rematch from the semi-finals in 2021, where the former won via UD. Sy won the finals in 2022.

Calm Impa Kasanganay outstrikes Josh Silveira to win PFL light heavyweight gold

Round five: Silveira ended round four on a high note. He tried to continue that run in round five. Kasanganay landed combinations and started swinging away, which Wiz Khalifa recommended Silveira do. High kick by Silveira, then a low kick. Elbow on the inside by Kasanganay followed by jabs. Another takedown was countered by Kasanganay, who danced at the final bell, knowing he won gold. 

SN unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Kasanganay (50-45)

Round four: Combinations landed by Kasanganay to open the round. Left hook by Kasanganay as Silveira's strong chin is the only thing keeping him in this. More combinations by Kasanganay land. A body shot connected and he later connected with jabs and hooks. Hook landed while Silveira attempted to act as the aggressor for the first time.

SN unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Kasanganay (40-36)

Round three: Kasanganay came in like a bat out of hell. Attempting a takedown, Silveira was blocked. Kasanganay had the takedown edge and landed a big uppercut. He also goes for a submission but Silveira did not tap. An arm triangle and clubbing blows have Silveira tired. 

SN unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Kasanganay (30-27)

Round two: Kasanganay landed crisp shots by the cage to start the second round. In the clinch, Kasanganay landed uppercuts. Marching forward, Kasanganay managed to avoid a takedown attempt by Silveira. A few seconds later, Silveira does take his opponents to the floor. Kasanganay got up and went right to landing hard strikes. He also scored a few rights and countershots in the clinch. Stalking Silveira, Kasanganay refuses to back down. High head kick scores as Silveira's hands were down. 

SN unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Kasanganay (20-18)

Round one: Kasanganay went for the attack right away. Both attempted a takedown, and Silveira ended with cage control. He attempted a trip but Kasanganay ended up on top for a brief moment. A right and left by Kasanganay pushed Silveira back. The former continued to land flurries while Silveira landed a jab. Takedown by Silveira but Kasanganay was attacking the head. Kasanganay landed on top when Silveira almost had him on his back. By the cage, Kasanganay landed a leg kick and a few combinations. An uppercut caught Silveira by surprise.

SN unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Kasanganay

9:15 p.m. ET: The first of five-straight title fights is up next: Impa Kasanganay vs. Josh Silveira. Kill Cliff vs. American Top Team for light heavyweight gold. Both have competed in the Challenger Series.

Harrison called out Bellator champion Cris Cyborg after the fight. The two have called each other out for years. 

Kayla Harrison returns to form, beats Aspen Ladd

9:05 p.m. ET: Knee to the face of Ladd with about a minute left... and another one. Ladd had one good shot to make the fight interesting. Standing by the cage, Harrison dropped Ladd before the final bell. She won via unanimous decision. 

9:00 p.m. ET: Harrison having no rust following a year away from the PFL is great for her progression. Round two saw a confident Harrison land swift jabs and a few hooks. She lands a right and then pushes Ladd to her back. Attempting to push her off, Ladd got back up, but could not find a clear edge. Harrison took Ladd's hips and twisted her around onto the floor. Arm triangle attempt by Harrison. Ladd's eye looks shut as round three begins. Spinning kick attempt missed by Ladd. Jab pushed Ladd's head back. Double leg takedown by Harrison, but then Ladd took her back. Harrison was too strong and was on top again.

8:52 p.m. ET: Both slugged it out to open the fight. Harrison landed several jabs to an open Ladd. Ladd landed a few hooks. Harrison slipped on a high leg, and as Ladd went for a shot, Harrison dropped her down to the floor. On top, Harrison, now in side control, wouldn't let Ladd budge. Ladd got up but Harrison reversed and put her back down. On top, Harrison landed several rights.  

8:45 p.m. ET: Up next is the PFL return of Kayla Harrison, who last fought in November 2022. She fights Aspen Ladd, who replaced Julia Budd. Will the layoff affect Harrison as it did Cooper?

Derek Brunson dominates against former champion Ray Cooper III in PFL debut

8:30 p.m. ET: Round two saw Brunson get a single-leg takedown and he lands on the back of Cooper. Brunson landed soft but effective shots to the face of Cooper, who's done nothing of substance. Brunson was in control on the floor the entire time. No elbows are allowed in the PFL, which severely affected Brunson's ability to end the fight early. Cooper was on top in round three and managed to find some momentum. Now Brunson gets on top and starts tagging away. That was the case until the end. Brunson wins via unanimous decision.

8:20 p.m. ET: Spinning kick by Brunson to start the fight. He backed Cooper into the corner right away. Right hand by Cooper, but Brunson blocked the shot, among several others. Off one foot, Cooper dropped Brunson. He lands crisp shots, but Brunson knocks him to the floor and lands hard shots on full mount. Left hands were pouring down on Cooper. Now combinations and Cooper had no answer until the end of the round.

8:15 p.m. ET: Former PFL champion Ray Cooper III faces former UFC fighter Derek Brunson to open the PPV. Cooper is fighting for the first time since July 2022 and missed weight. 

8 p.m. ET: The main card has begun. 

Bellator champion Patricio Freire and Jesus Pinedo faced off in the ring after the fight. The best of 145 fighting in 2024? Yes, please! 

Jesus Pinedo completes Cinderella Story, avenges early-season loss against Gabriel Braga

Round three: Pinedo has not given Braga a chance to breathe. A left hand, a knee, and Pinedo had Braga against the cage. The referee had seen enough after a flurry and Pinedo is a PFL champion! It might have been an early stoppage, but Pinedo gets revenge.

Round two: Braga's nose was bleeding, which affected his breathing. Pinedo landed several counter shots to the face of Braga. Bellator champion Patricio Freire is in the house to look at his next potential opponent. As he got closer to Braga, Pinedo landed multiple shots to his face. Combinations landed by Pinedo, who also landed a knee.

SN unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Pinedo (20-18 Pinedo) 

Round one: Braga started with the leg kick and continued his assault. Meanwhile, Pinedo tried to strike his way to victory, eventually landing crisp shots. Pinedo went on the inside and scored boxing shots on Braga. Both fighters landed high kicks.  

SN unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Pinedo 

7:20 p.m. ET: Gabriel Braga vs. Jesus Pinedo in featherweight action is the first championship fight of the night. Pinedo beat 2022 winner Brendan Loughnane and has been a true Cinderella story. It is a rematch from the beginning of the season.

7 p.m. ET: Biaggio Ali Walsh, the grandson of Muhammad Ali, defeated Joel Lopez following a brutal knockout in an amateur bout. He should be turning pro soon.

6:45 p.m. ET: In prelim action, Jesse Stirn defeated Josh Blyde via unanimous decision, while Phil Caracappa defeated Khai Wu.

Hello everyone, and welcome to The Sporting News' live coverage of the PFL World Championship Finals!

2023 PFL World Championship Finals fight card

Main card

  • Olivier Aubin-Mercier def. Clay Collard via unanimous decision (49-36, 49-46, 49-46); PFL Lightweight Finals
  • Renan Ferreira def. Denis Goltsov via TKO (0:26 into round two) PFL Heavyweight Finals
  • Larissa Pacheco def. Marina Mokhnatkina via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46); PFL Featherweight Finals
  • Magomed Magomedkerimov def. Sadibou Sy via guillotine choke (1:17 into round three); PFL Welterweight Finals
  • Impa Kasanganay def. Josh Silveira via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45); PFL Light Heavyweight Finals
  • Kayla Harrison def. Aspen Ladd via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Derek Brunson def. Ray Cooper III via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-25, 30-25)


  • Jesus Pinedo def. Gabriel Braga via TKO (0:58 into round three); PFL Featherweight Finals
  • Biaggio Ali Walsh def. Joel Lopez via KO (1:24 into round two)
  • Phil Caracappa def. Khai Wu unanimous decision (30–27, 29–28, 29–28)
  • Jesse Stirn def. Josh Blyde via unanimous decision (29–28, 30–27, 30–27)
Daniel Yanofsky Photo

Daniel Yanofsky is a combat sports editor at The Sporting News.