PFL 5: Olena Kolesnyk Promises Next Fight Will Be Most Impressive of Her Career

Atlanta, GA — Following her unanimous decision win against Yoko Higashi at the 2023 PFL 5 card on Friday, Olena Kolesnyk thought she was out of the playoffs.

Ukraine’s Kolesnyk (9-5) had won both her fights in 2023, but Aspen Ladd mounted a late second-round comeback to snag five points in her second fight of the season later that same night. That had them tied, and Ladd had a finish. Kolesnyk herself did not.

“I will sit in here and pray to have an opportunity to be in the semifinal. And if anything happens with one of these girls, if they give up, I won’t give up,” Kolesnyk told media outlets including Cageside Press, campaigning for a spot as an alternate. “I deserve to be in the semifinal, and I think I’ll do my best, just give me this opportunity to show it. And I promise the next fight will much more impressive than any fight before in my pro career.”

Kolesnyk’s prayers were answered before the event was even over. After a bit of confusion that included Kolesnyk anxiously watching fights from the back, shown on screen during the PFL 5 broadcast, it was announced that it was “Cannon,” not Ladd, who was going to the post-season.

Both fighters had five points on the season — Kolesnyk had lost a point earlier in the year for missing weight. But that fight had been a majority decision victory over Ladd herself, and that was the tie-breaker.

Regardless of how she got there, Kolesnyk is in the playoffs. And ready for them, it seems.

“I’m ready to be the face and represent PFL. To be the only one Ukrainian woman in the whole tournament,” Kolesnyk stated even before she knew she had made the post-season. “And me, my team, my coaches, people who are loyal to me even when I lost helped me a lot, to improve myself, improve my skills. As I told you right before this fight, I will be better and better from fight to fight and I will keep going, keep going to impress you guys. So I think I proved my worth today, and I know for the next fight, I will surprise you even more.”

Watch the full 2023 PFL 5 post-fight press conference with Olena Kolesnyk above.