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2023 PFL Championship results: Aubin-Mercier, Pacheco repeat as titleholders

Cooper Neill / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The PFL crowned six champions at the 2023 season finale Friday night in Washington, with all winners taking home a $1-million grand prize.

In the main event, Olivier Aubin-Mercier defeated Clay Collard via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46) to capture the lightweight championship for the second year in a row.

It was a grueling performance, but Aubin-Mercier sealed the win by outgrappling Collard in three of five rounds.

In the first 10 minutes of the fight, the Canadian took Collard down several times and racked up a serious amount of control time. Collard battled back in the middle rounds, stopping Aubin-Mercier's takedown attempts and landing punches. But Aubin-Mercier dominated Round 5 and nearly sunk in a rear-naked choke.

Aubin-Mercier, 34, hinted at retirement heading into Friday's bout. He said in his postfight interview he plans to "take a break" from MMA but did not officially retire. It appears unlikely Aubin-Mercier will compete in the 2024 season.

The former UFC fighter beat Stevie Ray in last year's lightweight final. He is riding a 10-fight winning streak.

Larissa Pacheco also won a PFL championship for the second straight year, defeating Marina Mokhnatkina via unanimous decision to claim the women's featherweight title. Pacheco earned scores of 49-46 across the board.

The Brazilian punished Mokhnatkina with heavy punches on the feet and ground throughout 25 minutes, and she fended off a deep kneebar attempt in the first round.

Pacheco is the first fighter in PFL history to win championships in multiple divisions. She competed in the women's lightweight season in 2022 and stunned the previously undefeated Kayla Harrison by unanimous decision in last November's final. Pacheco had lost twice to Harrison during the 2019 season. This was the first year the PFL ran a women's featherweight tournament instead of lightweight.

Pacheco said after the win she is ready for "war" with Bellator women's featherweight champion Cris Cyborg. The PFL acquired Bellator earlier this week and plans to hold an event next year pitting PFL champions against Bellator champs.

Renan Ferreira became the PFL heavyweight champion with a thunderous TKO win over Denis Goltsov. The finish came at the 0:26 mark of the second round. Ferreira put Goltsov down with a right hand and finished him off with ground-and-pound.

Ferreira, who has been in the PFL since 2021, called out former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou after the win. Ngannou signed with the PFL in May and is expected to make his debut in 2024.

Five years after capturing the PFL's inaugural welterweight championship in 2018, Magomed Magomedkerimov once again won the title. He submitted Sadibou Sy, the 2022 champ, in the third round to win this year's 170-pound season. Magomedkerimov jumped on a guillotine choke and quickly forced the tap from Sy.

The Russian also defeated Sy by decision in a 2021 semifinal bout.

This was Magomedkerimov's third appearance in the PFL finals. Previously, he beat Ray Cooper III by submission in 2018 and lost to Cooper by knockout in 2021.

Magomedkerimov faced off with newly crowned Bellator welterweight champion Jason Jackson after the win.

Impa Kasanganay beat Josh Silveira to capture the light heavyweight title. Kasanganay dominated Silveira by unanimous decision, nabbing 50-45 scores on all three judges' cards. Kasanganay has completed a huge turnaround since a brief UFC career in which he went 2-2 from 2020-21. He was on the receiving end of one of the most viral knockouts ever three years ago in a loss to Joaquin Buckley. Now Kasanganay has won six straight, five under the PFL banner.

Kasanganay expressed interest in a fight with Bellator light heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov after the win, and he also mentioned Ngannou as a potential opponent.

Jesus Pinedo avenged a loss to Gabriel Braga and beat him via third-round TKO to win the featherweight title. Pinedo, the first champion from Peru in major MMA history, is one of the breakthrough fighters of 2023. The 27-year-old lost to Braga in his first regular-season bout but then knocked out out 2022 champ Brendan Loughnane and Bubba Jenkins to reach the final.

Pinedo had an intense staredown with Bellator featherweight champion Patricio "Pitbull" Freire in the cage.

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