Pacheco (18-4) has tried to make that exact thing happen twice before, but in both previous encounters with Harrison (15-0), she’s lost in a convincing fashion.
The Brazilian thinks she’s grown and evolved a lot since her past fights with the two-time judo Olympic gold medalist, though, and is confident she now has the necessary skills to prevent Harrison from overwhelming her.
Both women dominated their ways though the 2022 season, and now will fight for the season championship Nov. 25.
“I pretty much expected her (from the beginning of the season),” Pacheco told MMA Junkie. “She is a great athlete and is the champ of the division. But I intend to change this story. Today, I am much better prepared – physically, technically, mentally. All I can say is we are going to put on a great fight.”
Harrison first defeated Pacheco in May 2019 during a PFL regular season bout with a unanimous decision. They closed that same season with a rematch and again went the distance, and Harrison again took a unanimous decision.
Harrison has gone to the judges just three times in her 15-fight career, and Pacheco is responsible for two of those. She’s more capable of handling Harrison’s talents than most, but there’s a difference between surviving to the final bell and actually crafting an avenue to victory.
Pacheco thinks she’s evolved enough that the complexion of the fight will change in the trilogy. Since her most recent loss to Harrison in December 2019, she’s rattled off five consecutive first-round knockout wins. The power in her hands has proven problematic for all her opponents, and she fully intends on finding out how Harrison will deal with it.
“I know I must keep it standing,” Pacheco said. “Even if I get taken down, I will get back up. I am working to match her in all areas of the fight. She is truly a great athlete. She is a two-time Olympic gold medalist. But this is MMA – there are more skills involved. No disrespect meant, but Kayla has not been tested. Everyone is good when things are good, right? But how about when they are not so good?”
Pacheco, 28, said she’s not concerning herself with the idea that this could be her final opportunity to share the cage with Harrison.
It’s likely a reality, though. Harrison has been open about the possibility if she three-peats as PFL champion, she’ll be ready to exit the season format and focus on bigger fights in PFL’s planned pay-per-view division.
How that transition could impact the future of PFL’s women’s lightweight division, and Pacheco in particular, remains unknown. However, Pacheco fully intends to shock the world, win a $1 million prize and shake things up by getting her hand raised.
“I want this title, and I am coming for it,” Pacheco said. “If I become champ this year, I believe that PFL has great things in store for me. To make all that money would be life changing for me and for my family. I could buy a house for myself, buy another for my mother and catch up with all those bills.”