Sunday, January 1, 2023

Kayla Harrison: “I Still Have What It Takes To Be The Greatest”

2022 may not have ended quite the way she planned, butKayla Harrisonisn’t about to let one loss alter the ultimate goal for her MMA career.

The 32-year-old is the biggest star in the Professional Fighter’s League (PFL), and Harrison was given the headlining slot in the promotion’s final event of the year at the end of November.

That event also happened to be the PFL’s first foray into the Pay-Per-View market, which most MMA promotions outside of theUFChave historically struggled to gain a foothold in. Even with a number of former UFC fighters and several title fights included on the card, Harrison’s popularity was always going to account for a large portion of the PFL’s efforts to market the event.

The 2022 PFL Championships ended up delivering a great night of fights, but the main event ended with ashocking upsetwhen Harrison lost via unanimous decision to Larissa Pacheco. “Judo” had already bested Pacheco on two previous occasions, and the loss was the first of Harrison’s career.

Harrison Undeterred By Loss

Even if she’s lost her previous aura of invincibility, Harrison has already proven during her decorated judo career that she’s more than capable of handling setbacks.

In an interview withESPN MMA’sMarc Raimondi, the 32-year-old opened up about the loss to Pacheco and how she plans to use it as motivation going forward.

“It sucks that I lost, but I’m not done,” Harrison said. “I know that I am not anywhere close to done. I still believe that I have what it takes to be the greatest. Now it’s back to the lab again. When you fall off the horse, you don’t run away, you get back on.”

Pacheco’s win over Harrison was one of the most significant upsets of the year. (PFL)

The PFL is unique from other MMA organizations in that it organizes events into a season where fighters try to accumulate points in order to advance to the playoffs. That format previously treated Harrison well when she became lightweight champion in 2019 and 2021, and most fans assumed she’d add a third title to her résumé in her last fight with Pacheco.

A much-publicized period as a free agent earlier this year saw Harrison choose to stay with the PFL, but it will be interesting to see if the 32-year-old changes herimmediate plansat all following the first loss of her career.

What do you make of Harrison’s comments on her future in the sport after losing her undefeated record?