LAS VEGAS — Brazilian lightweight Larissa Pacheco upset Canadian Sarah Kaufman on Friday night, winning by unanimous decision to advance to the US$1-million Professional Fighters League championship bout.
Kaufman (21-5-0 with one no-contest) came into the playoff semifinal bout at the Mandalay Bay Events Center as the top seed. But the fourth-ranked Braziian used her size and power to earn a 30-27, 30-27, 29-28 decision.
Pacheco (14-3-0) cut Kaufman around the ear in the first round and battered her nose in the second, prompting a torrent of blood. Kaufman finally found her striking range in the third round. But four Pacheco takedowns helped turn the tide.
Kaufman went to hospital for treatment after the fight.
"Just getting my ear stitched up and nose looked at. All is good," she tweeted.
The 34-year-old from Victoria weighed in at 153.4 pounds compared to 115.8 for Pacheco (155.8). Kaufman, a former Strikeforce and Invicta FC bantamweight champion, saw her four-fight win streak snapped.
The 25-year-old Pacheco (60-0) will face No. 2 Kayla Harrison, who stopped Canadian alternate Bobbi Jo Dalziel (5-2-0) later Friday, in the Dec. 31 championship bout at Madison Square Garden.
Harrison, a two-time Olympic judo gold medallist, submitted the 33-year-old from Sarnia, Ont. by armbar at 3:32 of the first round.
Dalziel was a replacement for Gena Fabian, who was unable to attend the weigh-ins due to a medical issue, according to the PFL.
Kaufman submitted Morgan Frier in May in her first fight in the PFL lighweight bracket. She was scheduled to face Roberta Samad next in July, only to see her opponent miss weight. That allowed Kaufman to move automatically into the playoffs.