The Professional Fighters League playoffs march forward this week as the PFL 2023 season draws nearer to a close. On Friday, Aug. 18, it will be the heavyweight division and the women’s featherweight division deciding their finalists, live from The Theater at Madison Square Garden in NYC.
The main event is the big fellas as Renan Ferreira clashes with Maurice Greene. Ferreira scored a huge victory the last time he fought, knocking out Matheus Scheffel in under a minute to secure his position in the playoffs. Standing in his way is UFC veteran, and Jon Jones teammate, Maurice “The Crochet Boss” Greene. Greene has had a bit of a career resurgence since being dropped by the UFC, and a victory over Ferreira would go a long way in showing that he is still an improving fighter.
Last year’s champion at lightweight, Larissa Pacheco, looks to make her way into the finals in a different division as she meets Olena Kolesnyk in a rematch from a 2022 regular season bout. Pacheco won the pair’s first meeting in just over two minutes, and it will be a tough task for Kolesnyk to overcome the odds and dethrone the reigning champion.
The preliminary card airs live on ESPN+ starting at 7 p.m. ET, followed by the main card on ESPN at 9 p.m. ET. Let’s take a look at the preview and predictions.
Renan Ferreira needed less than a minute to win his final regular season bout; does he make short work of Maurice Greene?
It takes someone with more courage than I’ve ever had to step foot into the cage, so I say this with a ton of respect, but Maurice Greene just isn’t that impressive of a fighter, in my opinion. He will be able to hang around for a while, because he’s a heavyweight, and there is a lack of depth in the division. But, he got lucky to make the playoffs, and his exit will be quick, but not painless.
Renan Ferreira is coming into his own as a fighter, and he looks better every time he steps into the Smart Cage. That quick knockout he scored in the regular season over Matheus Scheffel was his most impressive showing since joining the organization, and, this time, he will look just as good. It isn’t fair to call Greene “chinny”, but he is susceptible to being knocked out. He’s been stopped with strikes five times over his career. This will be No. 6, and, while it might take longer for Ferreira to finish Greene than it did Scheffel, but he earns his spot in the finals before the first round comes to a close.
Larissa Pacheco looks to earn a spot in the finals for a second straight year; can she get past Olena Kolesnyk?
Yes, Larissa Pacheco punches her ticket to the finals, and she does it in lopsided fashion. It’s an overused saying, but there really are levels to the MMA game, and Pacheco has shown that she is on the top level. Kolesnyk simply is not.
The pair fought last year in the playoffs, and it took just over two minutes for Pacheco to get the stoppage after a damaging left hook. This won’t be any different. If anything, at featherweight, Pacheco is more dangerous, so the stoppage might come even sooner.
Jordan Heiderman snuck into the playoffs by winning via injury TKO; does he upset Denis Goltsov and prove that he belongs in the finals?
This is a big test for the undefeated prospect in Jordan Heiderman. The only setback he has faced came in an exhibition bout on The Ultimate Fighter 30 against Zac Pauga. He has looked like he has a ton of potential and promise, but this is too quick of a dive into the deep end.
Denis Goltsov is a high-level athlete and premier heavyweight fighter. I truly believe he could walk into the UFC and compete with some of the ranked heavyweights on the roster. He will be too much for Heiderman this week. The forward pressure of Goltsov will increase the jitters that Heiderman feels on such a big stage and throw off his timing. Once he’s a bit rattled, it won’t take much for Goltsov to land a thudding counter shot that ends the fight in an instant. This one doesn’t make it out of the first round.
Which fight is the sleeper match-up on this card?
Danilo Marques vs. Satoshi Ishii. How is Ishii only 36 years old? It feels like he has been fighting since the sport’s inception. He has been competing in boxing, MMA, and kickboxing over the past few years, so it will be interesting to see how he fares against a pedigreed submission threat like Marques. If this one stays standing, Ishii should be able to score a big knockout, but, if it ends up on the canvas, he may find himself in a bit of trouble.
Main Card (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET)
HW Semifinal: Renan Ferreira vs. Maurice Greene
Women’s FW Semifinal: Larissa Pacheco vs. Olena Kolesnyk
HW Semifinal: Denis Goltsov vs. Jordan Heiderman
Women’s FW Semifinal: Marina Mokhnatkina vs. Amber Leibrock
FW: Nate Kelly vs. Damion Nelson
Preliminary Card (ESPN+, 7 p.m. ET)
HW: Danilo Marques vs. Satoshi Ishii
Women’s FlyW: Kaytlin Neil vs. Maira Mazar
HW: Louie Sutherland vs. Daiqwon Buckley
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