LAS VEGAS – After Friday night’s PFL 2019, Playoffs 1 event, Kayla Harrison felt somewhat disappointed – not in her own performance, however.
Olympic gold medalist Harrison (6-0) submitted short-notice replacement Bobbi Jo Daziel (5-2) at the 3:32 mark of the first round. The win not only kept Harrison’s undefeated record intact, it also punched her ticket into the $1 million PFL tournament finals on New Year’s Eve.
Harrison’s fight was featured on the main card of the ESPN2-broadcast event, which took place at Mandalay Bay Events Center.
At a post-fight news conference following the conclusion of the event, a grinning Harrison seemed pleased with her night’s work. However, when it came to the other side of her bracket, the PFL women’s lightweight contender expressed disappointment.
Before Harrison pulled off her first-round armbar finish in the main event, Larissa Pacheco (13-3 MMA) defeated Sarah Kaufman (21-5 MMA) in what many believed to be a solid upset. One of the major storylines all season was the build-up and hype surrounding an eventual matchup between Harrison and Kaufman.
Harrison told reporters Kaufman may have gotten a little overzealous in her mindset, which ultimately resulted in the loss.
“I am not super surprised with the result,” Harrison said. “I know Larissa. I was in the cage with her not long ago. I know she’s very physical, tough. She’s young and has a lot of experience, up-and-coming, strong girl. Really well-rounded overall. I knew that Sarah was going to struggle with her.
“I think just, too, mentally Sarah was just like, ‘I’m going to be a millionaire. I’m going to be a millionaire. I’m going to beat Kayla,’” Harrison said. “I just felt like she was overlooking her a little bit. I knew from experience, she wasn’t someone to be overlooked, so I’m not surprised by the result.”
While Harrison said she’s looking forward to a second meeting with Pacheco after admittedly being disappointed with her own performance in a May decision win, she alluded to her dissatisfaction knowing Kaufman will not be the one across the cage from her on fight night.
“I am a little disappointed because I always want to continue to grow as an MMA fighter,” Kaufman said. “I want to continue to test myself. I think everyone was kind of hoping for this magical moment with Sarah and I where I finally make her stop talking. But it is what it is.
“I look forward to the rematch with Larissa. I think we’re going to have some fireworks. I think we’re going to steal the show.”
Whether it be Pachecho or Kaufman or someone else, Harrison is keeping the same mindset. When Kaufman defeated Pacheco in their regular season matchup in May, Harrison was disappointed she went to the judges’ decision. She wants not only to win, but do so inside the distance.
“My mindset never changes,” Harrison said. “I want to go out and I want to instill my will in a dominant fashion. I want to win by a KO, TKO, or submission. I think the last time, it was a very last-minute opponent change. I didn’t really have a lot of time to check her out.
“I went in there, probably myself underestimating her a little bit. This time, there’s not going to be that mistake. I’m ready to stay hungry, stay humble, and do whatever it takes to win.”