By Shereen Siewert

Moriel Charneski is a familiar face to many Wausau residents after spending years working at the Wausau Country Club, the Grand Theater, Thrive Foodery, and other establishments.

Now, she’s becoming a familiar face nationally, thanks to enormous success as a Mixed Martial Arts fighter.

On New Year’s Eve, she meets Judo Olympic Gold Medalist Kayla Harrison in a lightweight bout set for the main card at Hulu Theater in Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Mixed Martial Arts or MMA involves both stand up and ground fighting so it employs both striking and grappling techniques from a variety of different martial arts styles such as boxing, submission fighting, catch wrestling, jiu jitsu, judo, Thai boxing, karate as well as others.

Now living in Texas, Charneski (3-4), who has earned the nickname “The Mo-Chine,” is coming off of a second-round knockout win against recent Invicta FC competitor Sarah Patterson. She has also competed against The Ultimate Fighter 28 cast member Marciea Allen and one-time Invicta featherweight title challenger Pam Sorenson.

According to a release, PFL will introduce a full women’s lightweight division for its 2019 season.

In a press conference, Harrison called herself the “baddest woman on the planet.” But Charneski, is used to the underdog role, having fought Rose Namajunas, Leah Letson, and Pam Sorenson in the past. However, she is undoubtedly “an underdog with bite.”

The PFL season wraps on New Year’s Eve with six championship fights and a $1 million prize awarded to each winner; the total purse for the card is $10 million. The championship card for the PFL, which emerged from the ashes of the World Series of Fighting, will be televised at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Network.

The league was formed when Donn Davis, Mark Leschly and Russ Ramsey invested $25 million into the WSOF in 2017 and rebranded the organization into a tournament-style league. The PFL format rewards early finishes, and a win earns a fighter three points. The fighter gets three more for a stoppage in the first round, two points for a second-round win and one point in the third. Even a draw is worth one point. The PFL opened with 72 fighters in six weight-classes, competing in seven regular-season events. The playoffs started in October.

Top photo: Moriel Charneski, from public Facebook page