In perhaps the upset of the year in the mixed martial arts world, out fighter Larissa Pacheco defeated two-time Professional Fighting League (PFL) Lightweight champion Kayla Harrison by unanimous decision to claim the PFL Lightweight crown.
Friday night’s PFL Championships event pitted Pacheco against the undefeated Harrison, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in judo who until Friday hadn’t lost a single round in her MMA career. It was their third meeting in PFL and the first since Harrison defeated Pacheco for the same title at the 2019 PFL Championships.
Harrison had been so dominant in her transition to MMA that PFL planned to remove her from the tournament-based PFL season competition in 2023 in favor of scheduling the company’s most well-known fighter in big money superfights.
Pacheco weathered Harrison’s takedowns in the early rounds, pounding Harrison with punches on the ground and nearly submitting her. Pacheco was more dominant on her feet, leaning on her thunderous striking ability to keep Harrison out of rhythm.
After five rounds, all three judges scored the fight 48-47 in favor of the 10-to-1 underdog from Brazil. Pacheco and her corner wept as the PFL Lightweight title was draped over her shoulder. The win also came with a $1 million payoff.
Pacheco called the win “a culmination of a career” after the fight. But don’t be fooled — she isn’t going anywhere.
“This belt just motivates me to work even harder,” she said. “I’ve got a lot more to do in this sport.”