PFL star Larissa Pacheco knows opponents won’t last a round ‘when I smell blood’ after first punch

PFL star Larissa Pacheco knows opponents won’t last a round ‘when I smell blood’ after first punch

Larissa Pacheco stopped Amber Leibrock and Olena Kolesnyk in 59 seconds combined to make it to the 2023 PFL lightweight finals. She will secure another $1 million prize with a victory over Marina Mokhnatkina on Friday at the 2023 PFL World Championship event in Washington.

Pacheco has won nine straight since 2021, beating every fighter in the company during that stretch. She was able to avenge her previous losses to PFL superstar Kayla Harrison in the 2022 finals, and she doesn’t lose any sleep because of any other woman in the company today, she said on MMA Fighting’s Trocação Franca podcast.

“If [Mokhnatkina] can handle my pressure in the first minute, in the first round, if I put my hand on her, and feel I’ve messed with her head already, that she has felt the punch, I know the fight won’t last a round,” Pacheco said. “But if I feel she can take it I’ll fight smarter, more cautious. I don’t need to be desperate.”

Pacheco’s current winning streak includes seven first-round stoppages. Mokhnatkina, on the other hand, is 6-1 under the PFL banner with a trio of finishes, having lost only to Harrison via decision.

“When I win in the first round it’s because I felt during the fight, ‘go there because it’ll be over soon,’” Pacheco said. “When I smell blood I know it will be over when I catch them. But if I feel like I felt against Julia [Budd], when I had to fight more intelligently especially because I had a harder weight cut and recovery… I’m better adapted to the weight now. It can last a round or three or five, depending on what I feel in there. I’ll go for the finish when I feel it’s the right moment.”

The growth of women’s MMA, especially after the UFC opened doors for Ronda Rousey, has given a much-deserved spotlight for legendary fighters like Cris Cyborg, Amanda Nunes and Rousey. The trio was so dominant in their eras that fans tuned in to watch how long it would take for them to win, not if they would win.

Pacheco believes that another first-round finish Friday night could give her that aura, but that isn’t something she necessarily chases as an athlete.

“My job is to go there and fight clean, fight fair and win, respecting everybody I face,” Pacheco said. “That’s not a label I try to create, to be like, ‘Larissa looks like today’s Ronda’ or whatever. I don’t try to be like somebody else. Ronda had her style, Amanda had hers, Cris has hers, and even Kayla has hers. Kayla won 10 fights doing the exact same thing. But if [fans] want to give me that credit for being someone that gives them excitement when they watch my fight, I’ll be happy.”

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