Kayla Harrison’s next time out will see her look to rebound off her first mixed martial arts (MMA) loss.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist judoka, Harrison, started her MMA career off to about as hot a start as she could have hoped for, winning 15 fights in a row. Seeking her third consecutive Professional Fighter’s League (PFL) Lightweight title this past Nov. 2022, Harrison, unfortunately, came up short in her trilogy encounter with Larissa Pacheco.
Pacheco entered the match up with two prior unanimous decision defeats to Harrison. In the third meeting, she shocked the world as a sizable underdog once again, scoring a unanimous decision win of her own (watch highlights), and becoming a first-time titleholder.
“Honestly, it’s the best thing that ever happened to me,” Harrison told The Schmo. “Well, besides my kids. It’s had a big impact on my life and shifted my life in a really positive way.
“I’m not fighting from a place of fear or ‘I gotta win, I gotta win, I gotta win’ anymore,” she continued. “I’m fighting from a place of happiness and peace and I think that makes me way more dangerous.”
Harrison’s future in PFL is expected to conclude at the end of 2023 with two more pay-per-view (PPV) event bouts. It’s always possible the Judo master re-signs with the promotion, but plenty of talk was made of Harrison departing heading into 2022 when she was still a free agent.
Ultimately, Harrison stayed put after having a big Bellator offer matched by PFL. Despite all the outside noise that has been following her up until the first loss, it’s no excuse.
“No, not at all,” Harrison said of promotion talks being distractions. “I think that’s part of the job. This is what I do for a living, this is my profession. I think that I didn’t leave any stone unturned. I trained hard. My coaches were with me the whole way, we had a great game plan. It just wasn’t my night. S—t happens.
“I’d like the [fourth fight with Pacheco],” she continued. “I don’t know if it’s gonna happen, just the way the MMA stars are aligned. So, I’ll have to settle for two out of three ain’t bad. We’ll see. I’ll never say never. I’ll fight anybody.”
Pacheco is set to compete in the PFL’s 2023 Featherweight season, starting on April 7, 2023, against Julia Budd.
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