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PFL Standings: Heavyweight, Women’s Flyweight Semifinals in Place


Forget the third. Denis Goltsov hopes the fifth time’s the charm.

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The well-traveled Russian sambo practitioner nailed down the No. 1 seed in the Professional Fighters League playoffs, as he swiped aside Thiago Santos—a short-notice replacement for Sergey Bilostenniy—with punches in the first round of their PFL 4 heavyweight showcase on Thursday at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Goltsov drew the curtain 2:22 into Round 1.

“Like they say in our country, you prepare for the worst and you go from there,” he said. “He didn’t really feel that strong. Once I was like a backpack on him and I was really controlling him, I was able to maul him. I was always in a good position.”

It marks the fifth time Goltsov has qualified for the PFL’s postseason, though he has yet to complete a run to the $1 million prize. He was the heavyweight runner-up in 2023, losing to Renan Ferreira in the final. Goltsov now trains his sights on the 2024 semifinals, where a confrontation with the fourth-seeded Tim Johnson awaits at PFL 7 on Aug. 2 at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. Teammates Oleg Popov and Valentin Moldavsky are set to collide in the other heavyweight semifinal.

Meanwhile, American Top Team’s Dakota Ditcheva improved to 12-0 and secured the No. 1 seed at women’s flyweight, as she dismantled Chelsea Hackett with punches in the first round of their co-main event at 125 pounds. A left hook to the body unwound Hackett just 3:22 into Round 1.

“I’m happy with it,” Ditcheva said. “Fair play to Chelsea. Not many people call out high-level people, and I’d like to say I’m a high-level fighter, so fair play to her for getting in and being a game fighter. I’m not really surprised by the performance, to be honest.”

Ditcheva now has $1 million payday within reach. She faces the fourth-seeded Jena Bishop in the women’s flyweight semifinals at PFL 7 and figures to be a hefty favorite there. Ditcheva, the 25-year-old daughter of former world kickboxing champion Lisa Howarth, has finished 11 of her first 12 opponents, 10 of them by knockout or technical knockout. Taila Santos and reigning Bellator MMA champion Liz Carmouche are slated to meet in the other semifinal.

“I’m excited to get straight back into the gym. I literally live for this sport,” said Ditcheva, who already has eyes on a semifinal pairing with Bishop. “It’s going to be a tough matchup. It’s opposite styles, so I’m probably going to want to it stood up, [and] she’s probably going to want to go to the ground. I think we’ll both be ready for both ends.”

Attention for the Professional Fighters League next moves to PFL 5, where lightweights and heavyweights progress in their bids to qualify for the postseason on June 21 at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City. A week later, featherweights and welterweights take center stage with PFL 6 at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

A closer look at the up-to-the-minute PFL standings:


HEAVYWEIGHT

x-10: Denis Goltsov
x-8: Oleg Popov
x-6: Valentin Moldavsky
x-6: Tim Johnson
5: Daniel James
3: Tyrell Fortune
3: Sergey Bilostenniy
3: Linton Vassell
0: Thiago Santos
0: Danilo Marques
0: Marcelo Golm
-1: Davion Franklin

***



WOMEN’S FLYWEIGHT

x-12: Dakota Ditcheva
x-9: Taila Santos
x-7: Liz Carmouche
x-6: Jena Bishop
5: Juliana Velasquez
3: Kana Watanabe
3: Ilara Joanne
0: Chelsea Hackett
0: Lisa Mauldin
-1: Shanna Young

***



LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT

6: Rob Wilkinson
6: Joshua Silveira
6: Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov
6: Impa Kasanganay
6: Antonio Carlos Jr.
0: Simon Biyong
0: Alex Polizzi
0: Jakob Nedoh
0: Sadibou Sy
0: Tom Breese

***



LIGHTWEIGHT

5: Michael Dufort
5: Clay Collard
5: Brent Primus
4: Elvin Espinoza
3: Gadzhi Rabadanov
0: Solomon Renfro
0: Adam Piccolotti
0: Bruno Miranda
0: Patricky Freire
0: Mads Burnell

***



WELTERWEIGHT

6: Don Madge
6: Murad Ramazanov
5: Shamil Musaev
3: Magomed Umalatov
3: Goiti Yamauchi
0: Neiman Gracie
0: Andrey Koreshkov
0: Logan Storley
0: Brennan Ward
-1: Laureano Staropoli

***



FEATHERWEIGHT

6: Brendan Loughnane
6: Gabriel Braga
3: Timur Khizriev
3: Adam Borics
3: Kai Kamaka III
0: Bubba Jenkins
0: Enrique Barzola
0: Brett Johns
0: Justin Gonzalez
0: Pedro Carvalho

***


x: Clinched playoff berth
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