We kick off our second 2023 PFL Regular Season event with the Heavyweights and Women’s Featherweights. Starting the action, seven-time World Sambo Champion Marina Mokhnatkina takes on PFL newcomer Yoko Higashi. Higashi, the DEEP Women’s Featherweight champion, will make the walk tonight for the first time outside her native Japan. Mokhnatkina has gone 2-1 in the PFL so far, only losing a decision to 2x PFL World Champion Kayla Harrison.
The bell rings and we’re officially underway. Higashi looks to take the center of the SmartCage and blitzes, eating a left hand from Mokhnatkina for her troubles. The ladies are not wasting time tonight as they both land in the early exchanges and Mokhnatkina lands a beautiful 1-2 combination flush on the chin of Higashi.
Mokhnatkina closes the distance and changes levels, driving Higashi back into the fence before isolating a leg and dumping Higashi to the mat, but Higashi is quickly able to build back to her feet without much trouble.
Higashi looks for a takedown of her own up against the fence but Mokhnatkina is able to defend before circling off and reversing the position, eventually opting to break with about 2:40 remaining in the round.
Mokhnatkina is having a ton of success with her straight right and Higashi is starting to look a little frustrated in there as she has trouble finding her range and landing clean on Mokhnatkina who lands a nice uppercut before Higashi returns with a short check hook, possibly her best strike of the round.
Still, it’s Mokhnatkina coming forward as she changes levels and blasts a double leg takedown, easily taking Higashi to the mat and unloading some big ground and pound as Higashi works back to her feet. Mokhnatkina wastes no time getting the fight back to the mat with a suicide throw and just like that she’s got a hook in and has the back with a minute to work!
Mokhnatkina is attacking with a rear naked choke and neck crank but just can’t get under the chin of Higashi who will finish the round in a dangerous position with Mokhnatkina applying the squeeze. Higashi will need to make some adjustments fast if she wants to stay in this fight.
The second round begins and Higashi lands a nice right hook to start but again Mokhnatkina is able to hold her ground and land a quick flurry of punches to back Higashi up. Higashi rushes in with a right hand and Mokhnatkina times her up perfectly, changing levels for a double leg takedown and landing straight in top side control.
Higashi is now bleeding from a cut over her left eye as Mokhnatkina secures the crucifix and starts just unloading with the right hand! The referee warns Higashi to fight back and she just can’t get out of the position, continuing to absorb strikes until the referee calls the fight!
Submission ace Marina Mokhnatkina gets her first career TKO and five points in our Women’s Featherweight division!
Marina Mokhnatkina def. Yoko Higashi by second round TKO (Ground strikes, 1:29)