Larissa Pacheco predicts 3 straight wins over Kayla Harrison: ‘I see no evolution’ since 2019


Larissa Pacheco doesn’t think her rivalry with Kayla Harrison ends at 2022 PFL Championship event on Friday in New York City.

On this week’s Trocação Franca podcast, Pacheco said she expects to share the cage with the two-time Olympic gold medalist at least twice more down the road.

“I believe we will meet again at some point or in any promotion,” she said. “And, for sure, [the score] will be 3-2.”

Pacheco fought Harrison twice in 2019, losing both matches via decision. It was the first time Harrison had gone the distance as a professional MMA fighter; she claimed her first lightweight belt at PFL that year. They both went 3-0 in the 2022 season, earning their way to another championship contest.

“I believe we’ll meet again because there are no other girls in her weight class,” Pacheco said. “We know the [other ones] are not on our level. Putting myself in No. 2 here, because I don’t have the same eyeballs or hype she does, we’re on the same level.

“After I beat her now, I think she will have to change strategies to become a good opponent, because her game is getting exposed. I wasn’t the first to slow her down. [Marina Mokhnatkina] did that, too. She has to innovate at some point. If that’s already happening when she’s fighting girls that aren’t on her level, imagine when he faces someone like Amanda [Nunes] and [Cris] Cyborg. That would be way tougher for her.”

Pacheco was making her lightweight debut when she first fought Harrison in May 2019, one year removed from a failed run on The Ultimate Fighter 28 at featherweight. Seven months later, they met again after the Brazilian tapped Bobbi Jo Dalziel and beat Sarah Kaufman by decision, but Pacheco returned home with another defeat. Since then, she’s earned five first-round knockouts, and she feels way better.

“I’m way more mature now as an athlete and professional,” Pacheco said. “I was able to show another side of my game. Everybody saw me as a grappler, and now people fear my hand. It’s going to be completely different for me this time around. She was superior at that time, she was on a roll winning many fights against girls that were not on our level. Even though she’s still the favorite in this fight, I see myself winning pretty clearly.”

Pacheco feels she has evolved as a MMA fighter over the past years, but she doesn’t think that’s the case for the American Top Team star.

“I see nothing – I see no changes,” Pacheco said. “She’s excellent at what she does, but all she does is one plan, and she sticks to it. Her fights are very similar. If you look at her career, she’s doing the same thing she did to me in 2019. She doesn’t knock people out on their feet, she usually stops them on the ground. She doesn’t have knockout power like I do. Her fights are just that, basically. I see no evolution. She doesn’t fight MMA.”

“My fights are way more exciting,” she continued. “I pretty much fought the same girls she’s fought and we finished them different ways. People will say she doesn’t change her game but keeps winning. So what? We have thousands of high-level fighters right now that deliver nothing. We don’t want that. As a fan, I wanna see action, I wanna see a fight, I wanna feel emotions.”