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Kayla Harrison Looking To Make A Statement at PFL 12

She came into the Professional Fighters League with plenty of hype, just without the seasoning. Season one came and went, and Kayla Harrison proved she can compete in the world of MMA. Now with a division and a prize to fight for, the multi-time gold medalist will look to show she can not only compete, but thrive.

Originally scheduled to face Svetlana Khautova (2-0) at PFL 12, Harrison (3-0) will now be facing Larissa Pacheco (11-2). She will also be headlining the event after Louis Taylor was pulled from season two by the NYSAC. Pacheco was originally scheduled to face Roberta Samad on the prelims.

Not only will she be put right into the main spotlight, but Harrison also faces an opponent who is much more seasoned than she is. Pacheco has seven wins via submission and has faced legitimate competition in Jessica Andrade and Germaine de Randamie. Harrison will not back down, however, as she knows just how big this opportunity is for her and women everywhere.

“I don’t care,” Harrison told Newsday, in regards to the new opponent. “I’m here to be the best in the world,” she said. “I’m so young in my career that at this point, my game plan doesn’t change. I’m going to go out there, I’m going to be Kayla, I’m going to instill my will. It doesn’t matter who’s in front of me.”

At 28, the woman representing American Top Team was a late starter when it came to MMA. One thing she is known for, however, is competing, dating back to her judo days. Harrison’s striking ability can surprise many, but it is her defensive ground game that is something to look out for. She won her first MMA fight via submission and her last two via technical knockout. Her last one, against Moriel Charneski on New Year’s Eve, was a true moment to remember.

After impressing last season, Kayla Harrison leads the charge in a women’s division unheard of before, a lightweight one. The PFL has hope she will win the whole thing, and the competitor in her hopes she does as well. Knowing the competition gets harder, especially with Sarah Kaufman just getting signed, Harrison knows she has her work cut out for her. One thing that won’t be diminished by other fighters? Her confidence.

“There’s always that little bit of doubt still just because I haven’t been doing it my whole life,” Harrison continued. “Sometimes I’m like, ‘Am I really? Am I a badass? Do I have what it takes?’ But once I start winning and getting confident, I think it’s going to be scary. Watch out.”

PFL 12, the first event of the leagues second season, takes place Thursday, May 9 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The prelims are on ESPN+ while the main card will air on ESPN2. Tickets for PFL 12 are still available now at the Nassau Coliseum box office or by going to

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Baseball Editor, Misc. Sports Editor. Covers all things combat sports (MMA, Pro Wrestling and Boxing). When he's not writing, Daniel hosts a podcast, The Main Event.
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