Kayla Harrison lost for the first time in her MMA career, dropping a decision to Larissa Pacheco in their $1 million PFL tournament final. The two-time Olympic Judo gold medalist handled the shocking and “painful” upset pretty well, all things considered.
“I obviously just lost my title. That hurts and it’s going to hurt for a while,” an emotional Harrison said, tearing up while discussing the loss. She also thanked her team for working through the holidays with her for this bout. “I know I have a really blessed life, so although it hurts, I know I’m going to comeback stronger.
“It’s different (from my losses in Judo) in the sense there’s $1 million on the line. I feel like I’m the face of the promotion, so I dropped the ball a little bit. But losing is losing, you know. For me, it’s like I want to crawl out of my skin. I can’t stand it. It’s painful.”
While Harrison admitted that the loss deeply hurts, she says she doesn’t have any excuses and credited Pacheco for her improvements.
“I don’t have an excuse. I don’t have a reason,” Harrison continued. “I have a lot to work on. Failure is my fuel. Some days you’re the nail and some days you’re the hammer. I feel like I’ve been the hammer for a while, and today I experienced being the nail.”
Harrison didn’t really have to speak to the media so soon after the loss, but she explained how that is part of her “legacy.”
“I just think I talk a lot about legacy, right?” Harrison said. “My legacy isn’t just what I do inside the cage. It’s how I carry myself outside the cage. I think about what I want my kids to know and I’m not ashamed of myself tonight. I’m proud. I went out there, I fought and I lost. But I can hold my head high and carry myself with dignity and I think that a real champion shows up in the good times and the bad.
“I want kids everywhere to know that, ‘listen, I fell down tonight. I fell flat on my face. I lost in front of the whole world, and it hurts and it’s going to hurt for a while. But it’s also an opportunity for growth and opportunity for me to become a better fighter, a better person.’ That is part of my legacy, not just the wins, but what I do during the losses, as well.”
After the loss, the now former PFL champion Harrison drops her MMA record to 15-1. Pacheco, on the other hand, not only got to avenge her two previous losses to Harrison, she also took home an extra $1 million for the massive upset.