Dakota Ditcheva was predictably awesome in her PFL global debut (Video)

Dakota Ditcheva proved why she was the biggest favorite on the PFL 1 San Antonio card.
Dakota Ditcheva
Dakota Ditcheva / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

PFL San Antonio on Thursday, April 4, marked the beginning of a new chapter in the Professional Fighters' League, as the 2024 season kicked off magnificently with the heavyweights and new-for-2024 women's flyweights. Right from the prelims, the card was awash with finishes, from Oleg Popov overcoming Steve Mowry's grappling advantage to secure a second-round TKO to former UFC title challenger Taila Santos swarming Ilara Joanne with submission attempt after submission attempt before finding the rear-naked choke, as fighters sought the maximum number of points available (six) to put themselves in prime position to advance to the playoffs.

But there was one particular fighter who impressed the most ... Dakota Ditcheva, who pounded out Lisa Mauldin with a knee to the body and follow-up punches at just 3:54 in the first round of her fight.

From the moment she entered MMA in 2021, Ditcheva had been pegged as a future superstar in the sport. She immediately proved that the hype around her was real, finishing her first four fights before thoroughly outpointing Paula Cristina at UAE Warriors 28.

But since her entry into the PFL, Ditcheva has elevated her promise and hype to unprecedented heights, finishing all her foes in dominant fashion, with none of them having any answer to her sharp and crisp striking. It was once again on display against Mauldin, who repeatedly tried to close the distance, to no avail, as Ditcheva tagged her again and again with teep and leg kicks. By the time the round hit its midpoint, Mauldin was doing nothing but back herself up the fence. One body knee folded her to the ground, but she managed to survive the ground-and-pound. She would not be lucky the second time it happened.

Dakota Ditcheva finished Lisa Mauldin in brutal fashion

That puts Ditcheva in a tie with Santos and Jena Bishop (who armbarred Chelsea Hackett) at six points, but she gets the lead via faster time of stoppage. Overall, she could not have had a better start, as she looks to conquer the world with her first global PFL title.

Who are Dakota Ditcheva's biggest threats?

Ditcheva is not the only significant favorite to walk away as the PFL's first women's flyweight global tournament winner. The aforementioned Santos was shockingly released by the UFC despite almost dethroning Valentina Shevchenko two fights ago, and her similarly dominant win over Joanne proved quite the statement to her former employer.

There is also reigning Bellator champion Liz Carmouche, who one again proved her superiority to her predecessor Juliana Velasquez in a smothering unanimous decision. While she failed to find the finish, her vast experience and in-cage intelligence still make her someone to watch. And sticking to Bellator, Bishop and Kana Watanabe (who took a decision over late Shanna Young) should also be considered dark horses to meet her in the finals with their respective differing skill sets (smothering grappling and voluminous striking).


What are the rules for the Professional Fighters League?. dark. Next