Middletown’s Kayla Harrison one win from third $1 million payday

She fights for third PFL title Friday night at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Credit: Gregory Payan

Credit: Gregory Payan

Kayla Harrison hopes to go out a three-time champion and a richer woman.

Harrison, a Middletown native, hopes to become a three-time Professional Fighters League lightweight 155-pound champion when she faces knockout artist Larissa Pacheco Friday night in the PFL Finals at Madison Square Garden.

The title fight, a winner-take-all, is worth $1 million, and if Harrison wins, it will be her third $1 million payday since 2019.

The 32-year-old Harrison has said this will be her last fight in the season-long PFL format. After this season, Harrison will schedule high-profile fights in hopes of stiffer competition, she said. She wants to be considered the best fighter in women’s MMA.

“I have everything I want,” Harrison told the MMA. “I want for nothing. Everything I have is enough. I’m grateful and blessed beyond measure. Financially abundant. Three titles, let’s not get greedy, I’m happy with that. I’m ready to be patient and wait for the fights that are really going to catapult my legacy.”

Harrison is 15-0 with six knockouts as a professional fighter after winning gold medals in judo in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

Pacheco has gone 7-2 in her last nine fights with her losses against Harrison in the 2019 PFL.

The other title fights on the card: Featherweight World Title: Brendan Loughnane vs. Bubba Jenkins; Heavyweight World Title: Ante Delija vs Matheus Scheffel; Women’s Featherweight Bout: Aspen Ladd vs. Julia Budd; Lightweight World Title: Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Stevie Ray Welterweight; World Title: Sadibou Sy vs. Dilano Taylor; Light Heavyweight World Title: Robert Wilkinson vs. Omari Akhmedov.

Harrison has been busy outside the ring.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

She served as grand marshal of Middletown’s Santa Parade last year and earlier in the year, took custody of her niece, Kyla, 9, and nephew, Emery, 3. Before that, her mother was caring for the children.

“I love them first and foremost,” Harrison said during a 2021 phone interview from her home in Florida when asked why she volunteered to take custody of her niece and nephew. “It’s my job to take care of them. I’m very capable.”

As a mother and an MMA fighter.

How to watch

WHAT: 2022 Professional Fighters League World Championship

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday

WHERE: Madison Square Garden, New York City

TV: ESPN+ PPV ($49.99) at 8 p.m. ESPN+ will exclusively stream the undercard at 5:30 p.m.

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