Renan Ferreira knocked out Denis Goltsov in the second round in the co-main event of the 2023 PFL Championship, to win both the heavyweight title and one million dollars in DC on Friday.
Goltsov, a powerful Russian wrestler, won five straight fights and set the record for fastest-ever PFL knockout since his championship loss in 2021 to Ante Delija. That put him right back here with another shot at becoming a millionaire. In his way stood the 6’8″ Brazilian, Renan Ferreira. After losing three fights in a row, Ferreira won two straight by first-round knockout to get to his first-ever title fight in the 2023 season. On paper it seemed like a matchup of Goltsov’s wrestling vs Ferreira’s incredible knockout power, though both fighters have multiple ways to win fights.
Goltsov looked to press forward and get close to Ferreira early on. Ferreira had some little success with striking early but got taken down in the second minute when Goltsov hip tossed him. Denis got on top in half-guard and attacked Ferreira’s left arm with a Kimura attempt, but that submission attempt did not pan out. Ferreira tried to sit up a few times and though he failed, at times it forced Goltsov to focus on control instead of hunting a finish or damage. With thirty seconds left in the first Goltsov passed to full mount, but was not able to be offensive from there in the time remaining before the buzzer.
The second round was a completely different story from the first. Renan Ferreira came out swinging with intensity. Goltsov shot a takedown and Ferreira defended it. Right as Renan pushed his foe off, he threw a right hand before Denis could get his hands up which caught the Russian by surprise. Goltsov was floored and it was only a few more hammerfists before the fight was stopped.
The Brazilian athletic specimen won an impressive victory and one million dollars. As they had all night, the PFL broadcast teased their champ against the champ of the newly acquired Bellator, Ryan Bader in this case. Bader expressed his own interest in the fight from a Zoom call which showed him as a box on the PPV broadcast.
Ferreira, meanwhile, called out the PFL’s biggest star, Francis Ngannou — though the league has been pushing for a hybrid rules fight with boxer Deontay Wilder for “The Predator” of late.