Despite scoring a major upset earlier in the PFL season, Olena Kolesnyk will need another strong showing in the second of her two regular-season bouts. Kolesnyk pulled off a stunner in April when she scored a majority decision win over Aspen Ladd. Kolesnyk, however, only earned two points for the victory after being docked a point for missing weight.
Kolesnyk enters this fight with a 3-3 record in the PFL. Last year, at women’s lightweight, she scored decision wins over Abigail Montes and Vanessa Melo but was finished by eventual champion Larissa Pacheco in the semifinals.
The first Japanese female fighter in PFL history, Yoko Higashi went 3-0 in the Deep Jewels promotion, winning the promotion’s featherweight championship. A judo specialist, Higashi will look for her first PFL win after getting finished by Marina Mokhnatkina in April.
Kolesnyk will need a stoppage win in the first or second round to clinch a playoff spot; meanwhile, Higashi is in a win-or-go-home scenario.
The two do a lot of circling, feeling each other out in the center of the SmartCage. Kolesnyk lands a couple of hooks in the opening minute. Higashi tries to come forward and get a hold, but Kolesnyk isn’t bothered. Kolesnyk misses a front kick. Right hand by Higashi, but Kolesnyk comes forward with a combination. Higashi is circling on the outside of the SmartCage now.
A right hand from Kolesnyk, but Higashi gets a clinch and hooks, pinning Kolesnyk against the fence. Kolesnyk pummels with her left and she’s able to escape. A kick from Higashi is answered with a left hand from Kolesnyk. Higashi pins Kolesnyk against the SmartCage again. Kolesnyk is able to reverse position. The two battle for position before Kolesnyk lands a big knee to the body off the break. Kolesnyk swings and the two battle for clinch control again. Kolesnyk lands one more knee before the bell.
The two swing a little at the start. Higashi bounces around the outside, but is unable to land any of her kicks. Kolesnyk is looking to work with the distance. Kolesnyk comes forward with uppercuts. Kolesnyk backs Higashi up and lands a kick before clinching up and landing several knees. Kolesnyk backs Higashi up again with a push kick.
Kolesnyk lands a front kick to the body. Right hand to the body by Higashi. Another right from Higashi. Higashi lands a body kick and gets out of the way of Kolesnyk’s attack. Higashi sticks to the outside, as Kolesnyk lands another body kick. Higashi with a body kick. Kolesnyk catches Higashi with a left. Another left from Kolesnyk. Kolesnyk clinches Higashi and lands several knees to the head before the bell sounds.
The two exchange briefly before Kolesnyk presses Higashi against the fence. The two are separated and reset just under a minute into the round. Kolesnyk lands a knee and fires off a small flurry, but Higasghi is narrowly able to avoid eating it all. Higashi gets Kolesnyk against the SmartCage. On the break, Kolesnyk lands another knee.
Higashi tries for a level change, but Kolesnyk stuffs it and narrowly misses a high kick to Higashi on the get-up. Higashi remains on the outside and gets a single-leg takedown attempt, but Kolesnyk fights it off. Higashi throws a kick, but Kolesnyk answers by coming forward with another combination. A right hook lands for Kolesnyk as she pins Higashi against the SmartCage. Another knee off the break for Kolesnyk. Higashi is troubled and Kolesnyk swarms her with ground-and-pound before the final bell.
Olena Kolesnyk def. Yoko Higashi via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)