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Kayla Harrison admits PFL championship loss to Larissa Pacheco might be the “best thing” to happen.

Kayla Harrison, the two-time Olympic gold medalist in judo, suffered a surprising loss to Larissa Pacheco in the Professional Fighters League (PFL) women’s lightweight championship final. However, rather than wallowing in defeat, Harrison is embracing the loss as a valuable learning experience.

Following her trilogy match with the Brazilian in November of last year, the renowned Judoka has remained out of duty. Few people anticipated the title match of the PFL championship show, which featured two lightweight women, to be interesting. Many expected Harrison to overpower Pacheco in their third meeting since she had done well in their first two meetings.

Ironically, the challenger overcame the unbeaten previous tournament champion. Five rounds of back-and-forth action between Harrison and Pacheco resulted in Pacheco's unanimous decision victory. By that, the Brazilian had claimed victory in the women's lightweight competition, handing the reigning champion her first loss ever.

In a recent interview, Harrison acknowledged that the loss to Pacheco might just be the “best thing” that could have happened to her. Months after the trilogy, she explained that she had become complacent after winning her first two PFL championships and that the loss gave her a much-needed wake-up call.

“The loss was like a spiritual awakening,” Kayla Harrison stated. “For me, for the longest time, it was either I’d become the best of all time or die from the shame of failing. I would tell myself if I didn’t win, I was worthless. I was fighting to earn love. That’s how I’ve felt since I was a child. If I wanted respect, then I needed to win. If I wanted to love, then I had to win.” (h/t Sports Illustrated)

She continued, “…I’ve moved on. I’m healthy. The loss wasn’t because I didn’t train hard. I put in the work, the game plan was solid, but it just wasn’t my night. The lowest moment is what I needed for me to get where I need to go. You can’t rest on your past victories, but neither can you rest on your past defeats. Professionally, it’s still yet to be seen, but losing to Larissa may have been the best thing to happen to me personally.”

“I’m blessed financially. I have two beautiful children I adopted, and I’m taking this time to be as present as possible with them. I’m still in the gym every day getting better, working on the areas I need to work on—and I’ll remain patient and keep working.”

Harrison’s positive attitude and willingness to learn from her mistakes are admirable. It’s not easy to admit defeat and accept that there is room for improvement, but Harrison’s humility and determination are sure to take her far in the sport.

Moreover, her attitude towards the loss can serve as an inspiration to other athletes and fans alike. Harrison’s resilience and growth mindset demonstrates that even when faced with setbacks, we can choose to learn from them and become better.


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