Larissa Pacheco is off on the right foot in her 2023 PFL campaign, as she tops former Bellator champion Julia Budd in the PFL 2 main event.
This was Pacheco's first fight since pulling off an upset of Kayla Harrison to end her undefeated record and capture the PFL women's featherweight title for 2022. Budd, the former Bellator women's featherweight champion, is now just 1-3 in her PFL tenure so far.
Pacheco started as the more aggressive fighter, coming forward as the two engaged in a striking battle. Budd didn't offer much in the first half of the opening round, but Budd managed to catch one of Pacheco's kicks and scored a takedown.
Unfortunately for Budd, Pacheco threw up her guard and looked for a couple of armbar attempts. Budd kept busy, but it didn't seem like her ground striking was as effective as Pacheco's on the feet. Pacheco emphasized her first-round performance with a late triangle attempt.
PFL 2: Larissa Pacheco defeats Julia Budd
Budd landed a sharp combination early in the second round, with Pacheco responding by clinching Budd against the cage. Budd reversed it into a Thai clinch and held Pacheco for a bit.
About halfway through the second round, Pacheco finally let her hands go, and the fight seemed to go back to the layout of the first round, though this time with a little more activity from Budd. Budd went in for another takedown with about 80 seconds left in the round, only for Pacheco to reverse and land on top.
Pacheco wobbled Budd with a left hand early in the third round but took a breather and didn't follow up on it. The two got into a clinch against the cage about 90 seconds into the third, and Pacheco managed to get Budd's back and get her to the ground. Pacheco attempted a rear-naked choke, and she worked her way to an armbar and Omoplata attempt, but Budd managed to get over Pacheco and on top.
Pacheco got back in top control and looked for an arm-triangle in the fight's final minute and the two ended the fight by trading body shots on the ground.
All three judges scored the fight for Pacheco, with two 30-27s and a 29-28. This win earned Pacheco three points, tying her for third place in the women's lightweight standings after the first regular-season event for the division.