Kayla Harrison’s $1 million PFL Championship match has Olympian coming full circle

first_img“Claressa and I go way back,” Harrison said of her fellow two-time Olympic gold medalist from the 2012 and 2016 Summer Games. “We both agree that if it’s a money fight, of course we’ll fight each other.”Any such scenario must wait for the time being. Right now, it’s about Harrison’s first major MMA landmark coming to fruition.“I’ve waited long enough and I’m ready to just get in there and do what I do,” she said. “I want to go down as one of the greatest to ever do it.” “I was just disappointed that I didn’t finish her,” Harrison admitted to Sporting News about her 2019 PFL season-opening unanimous decision win over Larissa Pacheco. “I want to go out there instill my will in dominating fashion, I want to get my TKO, KO or submission and that was the first time I ever went to a decision.“I just hold myself to a higher standard,” she piled on. “I felt like I could’ve done better, I should’ve done better and I didn’t. That’s why I was upset.”Join DAZN and watch more than 100 fight nights a yearHarrison channeled that disappointment by blowing through Morgan Frier in July and Bobbi Jo Dalziel in October — both via first-round submission — to punch her spot in the PFL championship. There, she’ll face Brazil’s Pacheco once again — this time with the women’s lightweight title and $1 million on the line. It will all take place at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on New Year’s Eve.This time around, Harrison wants the finish that eluded her in their initial meeting and the queen’s haul of prizes that come with it.“Since then, I’ve grown tremendously as a fighter,” Harrison said. “I’ve grown even tremendously as a person. I’m excited to show the world the Kayla Harrison that I’ve become.”Harrison has been aided in that journey by training with Amanda Nunes, the UFC bantamweight and featherweight champion who is widely regarded as the greatest women’s MMA fighter of all time.In a recent “Road to the PFL Championship” video, Nunes detailed why there’s no reason Harrison shouldn’t walk into 2020 with the women’s lightweight title and $1 million in tow.“We train together and she came to American Top Team and she evolved a lot,” Nunes says in the PFL clip. “She comes from judo. Over here, she’ll be able to put it together with wrestling, jiu-jitsu, striking, make a good strategy and become a MMA fighter. Definitely, she’s going to be the next PFL champion.”That said, Pacheco feels — much like Harrison — that she didn’t get to adequately train for their first fight, on just a day’s notice. Harrison has heard Pacheco vowing to knock her out in the PFL championship, and that’s only fueling the American Olympic hero’s desire to win emphatically that much more.“I want to win in dominating fashion,” Harrison said. “I want to start the New Year with a bang so to speak. I’m going to break her and she’s going to crack.”MORE: Bellator 237 results: Fedor Emelianenko knocks ‘Rampage’ out in first roundUsing New Year’s Eve as a springboard for more MMA greatness in 2020 and beyond sounds like the perfect scenario for Harrison.“It’d be a magical moment. It’s the end of a decade. It’d be the final rebirth of myself I feel like,” Harrison said, explaining what it’d mean to her MMA career. “I was an Olympic athlete for so long and now I’m a fighter and I’ll finally have my first world title. It’s a first step on a very long journey to bigger and better things.”Just like her American Top Team stablemate, Nunes, Harrison has expressed interest in a super bout with women’s boxing sensation Claressa Shields. That could be one of the “bigger and better things” from Harrison to keep an eye on down the line. Kayla Harrison was dejected, her head down and tears welling up in her eyes. In the moment, one would never have thought she just had her hand raised in victory.Yet that was the scene in May when the two-time judo Olympic gold medalist the distance for the first time in her budding mixed martial arts career. And the 29-year-old didn’t like it one bit at all.last_img

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