Atlanta, GA — Twelve points and first place in the 2023 PFL heavyweight division standings. That’s what Russia’s Denis Goltsov took away from PFL 5 in Atlanta, Georgia on Friday night.
Goltsov (31-7) sat UFC vet Yorgan De Castro down with a jab, ending their bout on Friday in all of 18 seconds. With champ Ante Delija out of the playoffs — he picked up a win at PFL 5, but lacked the points necessary to make the post-season — Goltsov is almost certainly the favorite to go all the way.
The veteran heavyweight, however, is taking nothing for granted. He’s been here before, after all.
“You know, I’ve already been in that position where I was climbing and I was on top of the division, and unfortunately at that time it didn’t go my way. So right now I’m not trying to concentrate that I’m number one, that I have the most amount of points,” Goltsov said backstage at the Overtime Elite Arena, speaking to media outlets including Cageside Press. “I’m still doing all the work, and anything can happen. So I’m training really really hard, and with hard work and dedication, I’m going to get closer to that final goal.”
Addressing the fight with De Castro, Goltsov stated that “Of course it’s great it worked out my way. I felt the distance, I felt my opponent, I’d seen an opening and I stuck the jab in there. And it went my way. It’s something I worked on.”
“In heavyweight as you know, one punch can end the fight,” Goltsov added. “I’m just happy overall with the performance.”
Asked about interest in recent free agent signing Francis Ngannou, the Russian said that for now, he’s “only after the belt. I’m very excited to get the belt and put myself in the super-fight division. Of course it’s a great opportunity, and I’m not going to let it go.”
The 18-second finish at this year’s PFL 5 card is the fastest in heavyweight history in the company, and the fastest finish of Goltsov’s near 40-fight career. That had him laughing a little.
“After 30 fights, I stopped counting how many fights I have. I just enjoy going for the journey,” he said. “But hearing I already have close to 40 fights, it makes me feel like I’m already getting older.”
Denis Goltsov is expected to face Jordan Heiderman in the PFL 2023 semifinal round.
Watch the full 2023 PFL 5 post-fight press conference with Denis Goltsov above.