Olena Kolesnyk: Fighting to become world champion but even more so, a bigger message to Ukraine

Olena Kolesnyk is no stranger to the PFL Playoffs, she’s no stranger to her upcoming opponent Larissa Pacheco, and she’s no stranger to fighting through adversity. Born in Odesa, Ukraine, Kolesnyk is back in a familiar position as she enters the 2023 Playoffs and a semi-final matchup against reigning champion Larissa Pacheco, but this time she’s not looking at the name of her opponent, only the opportunity that is in front of her and fighting to send a message to her home country of Ukraine.

It may be the same opponent and same opportunity as last year, but both Olena Kolsenyk and Larissa Pacheco have changed as fighters, and the Ukrainian challenger says she’s not focused on who her opponent is, but rather, focused on getting to the PFL Finals and winning the women’s featherweight championship.

Speaking to MyMMANews.com, Olena Kolesnyk made it clear, she’s not just fueled and motivated by facing a former opponent who she wants to beat, or the opportunity to become champion and win $1 million, for her, it’s about what’s going on in her home country of Ukraine.

“So, my country, to be Ukrainian, to have Ukrainian blood in my wins it’s everything especially when my whole family in Ukraine and I’m here alone. So, of course it motivates me to have a voice, to tell people the truth about the real situation at home. It’s a great blessing for me to be alive and speak with you right now, and follow my dreams. Meanwhile, it’s not easy to be focused only on the fight cause of course all what happened at home influencing you, but we need to do what we came to do where we are. Winning and to bring the belt to Ukraine.”

In order to get that win, Olena Kolesnyk will have to get past Pacheco, and although they’ve faced each other in the past, there’s no doubt they’ve changed as fighters and that’s one of the main focuses for Kolesnyk. No longer looking at Pacheco as the goal to get past, but rather, just getting the victory, Kolesnyk looks to not repeat the same mistakes from her past.

“I can make the same mistake which I make in the first fight. Became too excited to win in the fight and miss punch. So for me now, the whole tournament the focus only the belt, the focus only to be in the Finals this year. We make a great strategy against your weapons, we have a great study show for this fight, and all I want to do is just my hands raise up, all I want to do just to be in the final.”

With her focus only on getting to the Finals and bringing the belt home to Ukraine, Olena Kolesnyk says she doesn’t care how she gets the job done, she is just focused on getting the job done.

“To be honest with you, I don’t care how I win this fight. I just want to win this fight and I just want to be in the Finals. Cause to be focused just to beat Larissa, it will be selfish and it shows that my ego is huge, I don’t have ego.”

No ego fueling her, simply the opportunity to tell the truth about her home country, get revenge against a former opponent, and punch her ticket to the PFL Finals, that’s all Olena Kolesnyk has set out to do. It all begins with the rematch against Larissa Pacheco.

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Mike Pendleton
Mike Pendleton is a current contributor to MyMMANews while also hosting his "On The Mic" podcast and is a former Associate Producer at Sirius XM's Fight Nation. With a special passion for interviewing and talking to the very best around the fight game, you can read or listen to Mike's work across his multiple outlets. Follow me on Twitter: @MP2310