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Could this be Kayla Harrison’s final year in the PFL? Without knowing details of her contract, that question is hard to answer. One thing, however, is clear: From a competition standpoint, she wants more than what the promotion currently offers.
For the third time in as many seasons, Harrison has advanced to the women’s lightweight postseason and will headline 2022 PFL Playoffs 3 against Martina Jindrova on Aug. 20 in London. If she wins it all, she’s bank a $1 million grand prize.
With the exception of a one-off Invicta FC fight in November 20202 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Harrison’s professional career has taken place in the PFL. Harrison, a former two-time Olympic gold medalist in judo, has fought 13 times for the promotion and is undefeated, capturing championships in 2019 and 2021, and the 32-year-old is heavily favored to three-peat.
Winning PFL titles is nice, but the level competition simply doesn’t measure up for Harrison, who is looking to remove herself at least from the PFL season format.
“For sure, I think that going through this season especially, there’s been some other stuff behind the scenes going on. Whatever, life is life. There’s always something going on,” Harrison told MMA Underground. “But I think that, 14, by the time I’ll be done with the season it’ll be 16 fights in, it’ll be time to maybe start (looking somewhere else). I want the big fights. I’ve been doing what you would call seasons – I’ve been training twice a day since I was 12 years old. So it’s been 20 years now of putting my body through the mill. …
“I want the big fights. And if that means I have to be patient and wait and not compete in a season, then I’ll be patient and wait.”
Harrison has been vocal about a potential showdown with former UFC and current Bellator women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg. She also has engaged in verbal sparring with current UFC women’s bantamweight champion Julianna Peña. And, of course, there was a lot of chatter about a superfight between Harrison and former UFC double champion Amanda Nunes before she was upset by Peña last December.
In an ideal world, Harrison probably wishes she could fight all of them. Whether or not she’ll be able fight even one in the not-too-distant future remains to be seen. But it’s on her mind still, even after free agency ended with her signing a lucrative contract with the PFL before this season.
“It’s not about money,” Harrison said. “It’s about legacy, and it’s about testing myself against the best. So I think that this will probably be my last season.”