Article by Farah Hannoun and Mike Bohn
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. – Despite the new additions this PFL season, Kayla Harrison expects a familiar foe to be her toughest challenge.
Harrison, the reigning women’s lightweight champion, meets Mariana Morais in the co-main event of 2021 PFL 3 on May 6 at Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, N.J. The event will air on MMATV.
On the same night, last season’s 2019 PFL lightweight tournament finalist Larissa Pacheco, who Harrison beat by unanimous decision to claim the title, will take on Julija Pajic. It was the second time Harrison beat Pacheco, the only girl she’s been unable to finish.
So, if Harrison (8-0) crosses paths with Pacheco (13-4) for a third time, she expects her to once again be her sternest test.
“I think PFL brought in a lot of new faces, a lot of veterans, a lot of young up-and-comers,” Harrison told MMA Junkie. “Very diverse group of women. I saw a judo player in there, a bunch of good stuff going on there. I think that Larissa will be the toughest challenge again for sure. Just based off my intuition, but I’m excited to get to the fights and see how these other girls perform.”
She continued, “I’m guessing we’re gonna fight three times in our career, but we’ll see.”
Harrison, who stopped Courtney King in her featherweight debut at Invicta FC 43, continues to add new wrinkles to her game at American Top Team. But the two-time Olympic gold medallist in judo hopes she never gets to show off different elements of her craft and is content just mauling her opponents to the ground like she’s been doing since bursting onto the MMA scene in 2018.
“The tough part is, my game plan doesn’t really change,” Harrison said. “I’m gonna go in, try not to get hit, take you down, and instil my will. But I feel like I’ve made really big improvements as a well-rounded fighter. I’m way more comfortable on my feet, I’m way more comfortable in the range, seeing punches, my defence, things like that.
“Now, will you guys get to see that? Will I ever showcase that? I may not have to. Just be so good at what you do that it’s a one-sided fight, that’s the goal. I shouldn’t ever have to get into a brawl or a striking fight with anyone because I’m the best grappler in the world.”
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