Kayla Harrison says she didn’t perform well enough to win at the PFL Championships.
Larissa Pacheco faced Harrison in Friday’s 2022 lightweight tournament final. Harrison was unable to make it 3-0 against Pacheco, losing a unanimous decision in back-and-forth battle. The loss was the first of Harrison’s MMA career and a few days removed from the defeat, the two-time Olympic gold medalist judoka says that she simply did not do her best on Friday.
“It wasn’t a great evening for me,” Harrison said to Ariel Helwani during The MMA Hour . “I pride myself in my normal, and I usually shine under the bright light. I’m usually laser-focused and I have super clarity, and that night I really just didn’t. Normally I don’t hear the crowd, I don’t hear anything, and it was almost like I was watching me fight. It was a s***** experience for me, I’m not going to lie. I did not fight my best.”
Harrison went on to say that she did not underestimate Pacheco, and that she was fully prepared to get her hand raised yet again on Friday, but admits that this time around, things were different. Harrison says Pacheco was much improved since their second fight, and when they were all tied up heading into the fifth round, she simply got outworked.
“She looked physically different …” Harrison stated. Harrison said, “Obviously it has been three years since our fight, but she was still strong.” That’s probably why I lost the fifth. I didn’t have enough fuel left. And that’s a hard pill to swallow…
” I am the type of person who digs deeply and discovers a way. I don’t think I have ever been able find the next gear or find a solution. That fifth round is what I lost, and that’s hard. It’s hard to accept that I did not have the resources that was required that night .”
Harrison said that it was difficult for her to deal with the feelings of loss and winning in a career and life defined by success.
“It just keeps me up at night,” Harrison said. “I think too, part of what has made me tick for so long — if you ever do any research and you look at super successful people, a lot of it is fear-based, or worth-based, and for a long time, very much, my success was fear driven. I needed to be loved, because I didn’t receive the love that I wanted as a child. So I needed to be the straight-A student, I needed to be the superstar athlete, I needed to have two Olympic gold medals, I needed to do that in order to feel worthy of love.
“As an older person, I understand in my conscious mind that losing and winning doesn’t make me who I am. But in my subconscious, it still resides in me. I’m a worthless piece of s*** now.’ It’s something I have to deal with. These things are part of being a human being. Losing makes me doubt my worth. Not just dealing with the loss, but reminding myself that my worth isn’t based in my performance. It’s who I am as a person and the people who love me, love me no matter what…
“This is so silly. This is a fight. We are talking about what? Nobody died. No one died. I love them. So it’s all kind of silly.”
The question of what the future holds for Harrison and the PFL is now raised by Harrison’s defeat. While most assume a fourth fight between Harrison and Pacheco is in the offing, Harrison revealed that the PFL is still considering other options, particularly the long talked about superfight with Cris Cyborg, and so while she hopes to get another shot at Pacheco, the two-time Olympic gold medalist isn’t counting her chickens.
“I would very much enjoy another fight with her,” Harrison said. “I not going to say ‘enjoy it’ but I don’t want to not fight her… Unfortunately, I may have to work for it. To fight me again, she had to wait for three years. I have no idea what’s going to happen. I understand I have to work my way back and be prepared.”
If it does happen next, a tetralogy still won’t come for some time, as the PFL now enters its offseason and isn’t expected to hold another event until April. In the meantime, Harrison intends on getting back into the gym soon to start working on her game so she can be ready when the time comes. Pacheco needs to be on guard when this happens.
“I have dealt with loss before…” Harrison said. Harrison said, “This is not the first time I have failed and fallen on my faces. The good news for me is that I have proven to be a fighter out of all hell. I’m just like a tornado. It’s all going to work out. I know I’m going to be alright.”