Entering the 2022 PFL World Championship, Kayla Harrison was once again touted as a heavy favorite coming into the evening.
In this case, confidence in Harrison to emerge victorious was even further supported by the fact that she holds two victories over Pacheco in the past. This year would be different, though, with Pacheco scoring the massive upset via unanimous decision.
The MMA world has reacted to Harrison’s loss, including Harrison’s inter-promotional nemesis Cris Cyborg. Immediately after the fight, the world was able to hear from Harrison herself.
As could be expected, Harrison was visibly distraught after losing for the first time on such a historic stage for the PFL. However, she took it all on the chin, made no excuses, and is prepared to make the necessary adjustments.
“I’m super grateful for the opportunity to do what I love everyday,” Harrison said at the post-fight press conference. “I didn’t get the result that I wanted tonight. Larissa was the better fighter. I don’t have an excuse, I don’t have a reason. I believe in my team, I believe in my preparation. I feel like we did everything right in order to prepare for this fight, and it just didn’t go my way tonight. I made some tactical errors. A lot to work on.
“Failure is inevitable. Some days you’re the nail, and some days you’re the hammer. I feel like I’ve been the hammer for a while, and today, I experienced being the nail. This is an opportunity for me to grow as a fighter and as a person.
“I’m very fortunate that this isn’t the first time I’ve lost in life or in a sport setting,” Harrison continued. “I’ve lost many times in judo. It’s a little different in MMA, obviously. It’s the world’s biggest stage. I just lost my title, so that hurts. It’s going to hurt for a while. But it’s also kind of silly, right? I’m not curing cancer, I’m not changing the world. What I do is very selfish, and I do it because I love it.
“And again, I’m really grateful for my team, for everyone who makes sacrifices for me, they’re away from their families during the holidays, they’re in the gym with me every day, putting in the work just as much as I am. I’m grateful for my family, for all the sacrifices they made in order for me to be here, for my kids, and I know that I have a really blessed life. So although it hurts, I know that I’ll come back stronger.”
Kayla Harrison Talks Legacy After First MMA Setback
Entering the 2022 PFL World Championship, Kayla Harrison had amassed an impressive record of 15-0. Had she remained undefeated, she could have carved a unique, Khabib-esque niche in women’s MMA, especially if that record had remained intact as her level of opposition increases.
Instead, Harrison has suffered the first blemish to her previously spotless record at the hands of a woman she had defeated twice before.
As someone who has referred to herself as the “queen of women’s MMA” and has never been bashful about her goals to become the best female fighter of all time, how does this loss impact her legacy? Harrison addressed this along with her willingness to face the public after such a major loss.
“I just think that I talk a lot about legacy, and to me my legacy isn’t just what I do inside of the cage but how I carry myself outside of the cage,” Harrison said. “I think about what I want my kids to know, and I’m not ashamed of myself tonight. I’m proud. I went out there, I fought, I lost, but I can hold my head high and carry myself with dignity. I think that a real champion shows up in the good times and the bad, and I want kids everywhere to know that, listen, I fell down tonight. I fell flat on my face. I lost in front of the whole world, and it hurts. It’s going to hurt for awhile.
“But it’s also an opportunity for growth, it’s an opportunity for me to become a better fighter, a better person, and that is part of my legacy. Not just the wins, but what I do during the losses as well.”
As someone who has been a lifelong competitor, this of course is not the first time the Olympic judoka has encountered defeat. However, Harrison was able to pinpoint what makes this outcome particularly different.
“It’s different in the sense that there’s $1 million on the line, and I feel like I’m the face of the promotion, so I dropped the ball a little bit,” Harrison said. “But losing is losing. For me, it’s like I want to crawl out of my skin. I can’t stand it. So it’s painful.”
What do you think the future holds for the rest of Kayla Harrison’s MMA career?