The 2021 PFL Playoffs stuck to the women’s lightweight division Thursday evening, as Claudia Zamora took on Marina Mokhnatkina.
This bout came to fruition after No. 1-seeded women’s lightweight Larissa Pacheco missed weight for the event, disqualifying her from the Playoffs. As a result, Zamora’s original opponent, Mariana Morais, received the call up to the Playoffs and to the main card on ESPN, while Zamora was rebooked against Mokhnatkina on ESPN+.
After all the shuffling, the two women finally touched gloves and got to work inside the PFL Smart Cage.
Here’s how it went down.
No touch of the gloves here. Mokhnatkina opens the action with an inside leg kick. Zamora responds with a naked low kick, which Mokhnatkina sees and counters with a strong right hand.
Zamora with the body kick, and Mokhnatkina catches the leg, bullying her foe against the cage. Zamora avoids the takedown, disengages, and they’re back to the center of the cage.
This time it’s Mokhnatkina with the leg kick. An overhand right finds the mark for Mokhnatkina, but Zamora fires back with a nice right hand of her own. Again, Mokhnatkina looks to clinch, but Zamora avoids the takedown once more.
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Mokhnatkina slips but makes the most of it, turning it into another takedown attempt, which she completes. She drops for a leglock on Zamora, but it’s not there, and Zamora slips away. After a brief exchange, Zamora’s back to her feet. Great defense shown from her there as she avoided any damage from the sambo world champ Mokhnatkina.
Forty-five seconds to go, and Zamora slips. Mokhnatkina pounces, but Zamora creates space and escapes. They end the round on their feet, pressed against the cage.
They’re back at it. Fighter Performance Rating (PFR) gave Mokhnatkina the significant edge in Round 1, scoring her at 76 to Zamora’s 26.
Three minutes left in the round, and nothing of consequence has landed from either side. Mokhnatkina catches a leg and dumps Zamora to the mat, but Zamora once again pushes her foe away and returns to the feet.
Body kick lands for Mokhnatkina as they continue to circle. Despite likely being down on the cards, Zamora is struggling to find her range and pull the trigger here against the bigger Mokhnatkina. Two big rights land for Mokhnatkina, but Zamora hands in the pocket and fires back with some hands of her own.
We’re headed to Round 3.
Zamora charges out for Round 3, but Mokhnatkina catches her with a crispy counter, immediately putting her back on her heels.
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Mokhnatkina works the low leg kicks, and Zamora’s wearing the damage. She’s looking visibly hobbled here, and Mokhnatkina just keeps targeting it. To her credit. Zamora’s hanging in and attempting to fire back, but her leg is clearly devastated.
Now Mokhnatkina rushes with a strong combination, sensing that her opponent is injured. There’s a flurry, but Zamora survives. Mokhnatkina stalks her way around the PFL Smart Cage before landing another low kick. Zamora attempts to time it with a right hand counter, but she just misses the mark.
The final bell sounds. Zamora survives to see the decision.
Mokhnatkina landed more arm strikes, leg strikes, takedowns, and ground strikes, edging Zamora everywhere the fight went. As a result, it seemed like a clear decision victory for Mokhnatkina –– and the judges agreed.
After 15 minutes of action, Mokhnatkina takes home the unanimous nod.
Official Result: Marina Mokhnatkina def. Claudia Zamora via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)