On Friday night at the 2022 PFL World Championships, 8 to 1 favorite Kayla Harrison lost to Larissa Pacheco in the women’s lightweight finals via unanimous decision. It was a pretty shocking outcome given Harrison had already beaten Pacheco twice in the past. Going into the event, Harrison winning a third million dollar tournament was all but guaranteed.
We guess nobody gave Pacheco the memo. The Brazilian lightweight survived an early blitz from the American judo gold medalist and used her strength and conditioning to gut out a 48-47×3 decision on the judges’ scorecards. Following the fight, Bellator featherweight champion Cris Cyborg weighed in on the defeat.
“Tonight will only make Judo Kayla a better fighter,” Cyborg wrote on Twitter. “One thing I learned after going 14 years undefeated is that sometimes you need to lose to become your best. Kayla will be back and she will grow from this experience. Congrats Larissa Pacheco, you are a real World Champion.”
That was a pretty classy statement from Cyborg, who had been involved in some heated back and forths with Harrison over the years. As Harrison’s record in the PFL grew and people started debating her place in the women’s GOAT conversation, there were fewer and fewer kind words going back and forth between the two. Leading up to this PFL event, Kayla went so far as to say her resume was better than Cyborg’s, and suggested Cris was ducking her.
Shortly after her complimentary tweet, Cyborg took a dig at Harrison and PFL owner Donn Davis, who had tried to set up a match between the two women.
“Fans want the fight, fighters want the fight,” Davis tweeted back in August. “I have watched and listened … PFL will provide all money and handle all matters. Kayla v Cyborg, $1M each fighter + $2M winner bonus. PPV Super Fight … no more talk … decide the best inside the cage.”
Cyborg quoted that tweet, adding “I think Donn Davis owes Larissa Pacheco a back room bonus, she just saved the PFL 3 million dollars.”
At the moment, MMA has taken something of a backseat for Cris Cyborg as she works to establish herself in the world of boxing. Big money fights lay on the horizon against opponents like Katie Taylor and Claressa Shields, but for now Cyborg is building her record up against lesser opposition. In September she beat former Brazilian boxing champ Simone Silva. In December she’ll face 6-6 MMA fighter Gabrielle Holloway in the boxing ring.
As it stands, it doesn’t look like we’ll see a showdown between Cyborg and Harrison any time soon, which is disappointing.