Kayla Harrison was less than thrilled to find out she would not be part of the PFL’s 2023 season.
The two-time PFL champion suffered the first setback of her mixed martial arts career last year. Attempting to three-peat as the promotion’s lightweight women’s champion, Harrison suffered a unanimous decision loss to Larissa Pacheco in the 2022 championship in November. It would be the first loss of her career, a moment that would undeniably damage some of the mystique that catapulted her from an Olympic gold medalist to a combat sports superstar.
Appearing on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Harrison revealed that she had every intention of being part of the 2023 season before the promotion put the kibosh on it.
“Of course, I wanted to be in the season,” Harrison admitted. “The second the tournament was over, the second I lost I was like, ‘145-pound champ, gonna win the season, gonna avenge my loss. Boom, boom, boom.’ Had all my key areas of focus and that’s not in the cards for me. That’s not what they want to do.”
Kayla Harrison says she wanted to fight in the PFL's current season. #TheMMAHour
"I think that they feel like that is not the best way to utilize me. I think that they want to put me on a pay-per-view card against a big name."
— MMA Fighting (@MMAFighting) April 3, 2023
Kayla Harrison Would Rather Fight Than Sit on the Sidelines and Collect a Paycheck
Currently, Kayla Harrison only has two fights remaining on her existing PFL contract. When asked if that was the promotion’s underlying issue with booking her for the 2023 tournament, Harrison responded with a hint of uncertainty.
“I don’t know. I think that I get paid a lot of money. I think that they feel like that’s not the best way to utilize me,” Harrison continued. “I think that they want to put me on a pay-per-view card against a big name. And you know what, I’ve been a little bit depressed about it. It’s hard to watch something you helped build… No matter how awaked and peaceful I am. Like, the world is still moving forward and I’m sitting right here, sometimes it’s hard.
“I want to do that. I want to fight. I don’t just want to talk about fighting. I want to fight. It’s frustrating, but again, a lot of the things I’m doing now I wouldn’t have… My kids were on spring break. We went camping for the first time. I wouldn’t have been able to do that if I was in the season. I wouldn’t have been able to spend the time that I’ve been spending with my children now if I had a fight booked once every eight weeks. I’m just trying to take the good with the bad and realize that it’s all happening the way it’s meant to happen.
Harrison also revealed that the two fights remaining on her PFL contract have to be in the books by November. If not, she collects her paycheck and is free to once again test out free agency. The PFL typically holds its final event of the season in November so hard to imagine that she would not be part of those plans. Whether or not the company finds a spot for her before then remains to be seen.