Larisa Pacheco stunned Kayla Harrison to win the PFL lightweight title
Kayla Harrisonthe two-time defending PFL lightweight champion and the promotion’s most dominant fighter, is no longer undefeated. Larissa Pachecowho has faced Harrison twice before and lost both times, pulled off a stunning victory in her third shot at Harrison on Friday night in New York.
The fight was one of six PFL season championship finals in the weight division that took place at the Hulu Theater in Madison Square Garden.
Harrison (15-1), a two-time Olympic gold medalist in judo, entered as an 8-1 favorite. She and the PFL were already making plans for next year, removing her from regular season competition to enter her in “superfights,” possibly with a step up in competition. Pacheco may have spoiled those plans.
The fight started well for Harrison, who scored an early takedown and threatened to submit for much of the first round. But Pacheco (19-4) withstood those tough five minutes and fought back in the second round, using her powerful standup skills to land heavy shots and using strong takedown defense to turn the tide.
The fight appeared to be tied in the fifth round and Pacheco was the fresher fighter at that point. She landed a few hard punches on Harrison, who eventually managed to get a takedown, but couldn’t capitalize.
All three judges scored the match 48-47 in favor of Pacheco. Prior to this match, Harrison had not lost a single round in her career. Harrison is No. 8 in ESPN’s top 10 pound-for-pound, the only PFL fighter in either those rankings or the divisional rankings.
When Pacheco was presented with the championship belt and a giant replica of a million dollar check, she credited her opponent for playing a role in getting her to where she is now in her career.
“Just like Kayla said before: I’ve always made her a better competitor,” Pacheco said through a translator. “Well, she always made me a better competitor. She got me to this point.”
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