Mixed Martial Arts Star Kayla Harrison Reacts to First Professional Defeat

Kayla Harrison

Getty Kayla Harrison

Mixed martial arts star Kayla Harrison suffered the first loss of her professional career and she “doesn’t have an excuse” for it.

Harrison, who is arguably the Professional Fighters League’s biggest star, entered the Smart Cage on November 25 to compete for her third PFL women’s lightweight tournament championship — and her third million-dollar check.

Standing across from the Olympic gold medalist judoka was a woman she had already beaten twice, Larissa Pacheco. And just like most of her matches prior, Harrison was the heavy favorite.

But, Pacheco flipped the script and after fighting five rounds in the night’s main event, Harrison’s record fell to 15-1 after the Brazilian was awarded a unanimous decision (48–47, 48–47, 48–47).

Harrison Plans to Use the ‘Failure’ as ‘Fuel’ to Grow as Fighter & Person

Considering Harrison was in the conversation for greatest active women’s MMA fighter, the result was shocking, to say the least.

An emotional Harrison spoke with media members at the PFL post-fight press conference. And the world-class athlete opened up about the loss, saying that she’d use it as fuel to become a better fighter and person.

“I’m still super grateful for the opportunity to do what I love every day,” Harrison said. “I didn’t get the result that I wanted tonight. Larissa was the better fighter. I don’t have an excuse, I don’t have a reason. You know, I believe in my team. I believe in my preparation. I feel like we did everything right in order to prepare for this fight — just didn’t go my way tonight. I made some tactical errors. [I have] a lot to work on.

“Failure is my fuel. Some days you’re the nail, and some days you’re the hammer. And I feel like I’ve been the hammer for a while, and today, I experienced being the nail. So, this is an opportunity for me to grow as a fighter and as a person.”

Harrison Said It Wasn’t the First Time She Tasted Defeat, ‘Grateful’ for Her Support & Will ‘Come Back Stronger’

Just because Harrison entered the cage with a “0” attached to her professional MMA record didn’t mean losing wasn’t something she had felt before. And Harrison acknowledged that at the presser, but also pointed to the stage being much bigger than when she dropped judo matches in the past.

“I’m very fortunate that this isn’t the first time I’ve lost in life or in a sport setting,” A teary-eyed Harrison continued. “You know, I’ve lost many times in judo. It’s a little different in MMA, obviously. It’s the world’s biggest stage. I obviously have just lost my title, so that hurts. It’s going to hurt for a while. But it’s also kind of silly, right? I’m not curing cancer, I’m not changing the world. What I do is very selfish, and I do it because I love it.

“But again, I’m really grateful for my team, for everyone who makes sacrifices for me, they’re away from their family during the holidays. They’re with me at the gym every day putting in the work just as much as I am. I’m grateful for my family — all the sacrifices they made in order for me to be here. For my kids, and I know that I have a really blessed life. So although it hurts, I know that I’m going to come back stronger.”

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