2022 PFL 3 – Kayla Harrison vs Marina Mokhnatkina: Fight Card, Start Time, Live Stream, Preview

There’s no getting around the fact that Kayla Harrison’s return to the PFL on Friday for the first fight of a new contract is disappointing for many fight fans who had hoped to see the two-time Olympic gold medalist judoka in the cage with the biggest names in the sport. Ask Harrison, though, and his new deal with PFL is a simple matter of contract reality.

Harrison, who faces Marina Mokhnatkina in the main event of Friday’s PFL Card 3 (9 p.m., ESPN+), also said she was set for a matchup with Bellator featherweight champion Cris Cyborg on April 22 before PFL executed her contractual rights to retain her fighting services.

“I think a lot of MMA fans don’t understand how contracts work,” Harrison told Morning Kombat’s Luke Thomas. “To be quite frank, I tested out restricted free agency and kind of bet on myself and got a great offer. I got a great offer from Bellator and I was supposed to fight Cyborg last week. It wasn’t like, “Oh, we’re gonna give him a tune-up fight and we’re gonna do this and do that. No, it was like, ‘Hey, we going to give you a ton of money and you’re going to fight Cyborg on April 22 in Hawaii.’

“I said yes and accepted that offer and PFL had the right to match that offer and they did. I’m not sad about that. I’m very happy to be with PFL. They’re pushing also very strong to fight with Cyborg happens in the future. Everything happens for a reason and I’m ok with that. I’m happy with how it went. I admit there was a lot of d “Emotions. You start off thinking you’re going to fight a legend in the sport step by step. There’s a lot of things that come into play but I’m focused and I’m ready. It’s a long game for me.”

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Harrison has twice won the PFL Women’s Lightweight Tournament, winning a $1 million prize each time. Business is good, although major fights with Cyborg, Amanda Nunes or UFC bantamweight champion Julianna Pena have largely been taken off the table.

Harrison left no doubt about his skills, beating the competition every time. Out of 12 opponents, Harrison finished 10, five by submission and five by knockout.

In that regard, Harrison’s status as one of the best fighters on the planet is undeniable. She’s accepted that, for better or worse, the path she’s on isn’t going to lead her to being considered the best of the best. But, Harrison said, that’s not what drives her.

“It’s catch-22 that I’m up against. To be the best, I have to have a consensus that everyone around me thinks I’m the best too,” Harrison said. “But am I? I think I’m going to get it. I’m pretty confident in my ability to leave no doubt. I guess what I’m saying is that part of it won’t be what will make I am satisfied Everyone knows that I am the best is no longer what motivates me Maybe it was at first but I have grown a lot with age and as a than anyone. That’s not what drives me. What drives me is the inner desire to reach my full potential.”

One thing is for sure, even the slightest mistake against an opponent like Mokhnatkina would not only be a major setback in the season’s lightweight rankings, but would also leave fans and fellow fighters doubting Harrison’s true quality.

It’s the burden of a great fighter swimming in what is considered a shallow pool.

Harrison knows the threat Mokhnatkina poses as a multiple-time world Sambo champion and says she’s up for the challenge, even though her trainer has some thoughts on Mokhnatkina’s fighting background.

“She’s a little unorthodox. We watched a movie about her,” Harrison said. “She’s a six or seven time World Sambo Champion. She throws a lot of stuff backwards. I’ve seen a lot of leg locks and knee locks from her. I feel like, again, all these new opponents make me a better fighter Stepping up my game and learning more about leg locks and defense I’ve never really seen a lot of shit back in time Realizing that and preparing for it all has been good for me. I can’t wait to fight .

“My judo coach Big Jim said when we were watching the movie, he was like, ‘Oh, Sambo.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, she’s a seven-time World Sambo Champion.’ He said, ‘Sambo? Sambo is for people who couldn’t make it in judo.'”

PFL 3 fight card

  • Kayla Harrison (c) vs. Marina Mokhnatkina, women’s lightweights
  • Ray Cooper III (c) vs. Carlos Leal, welterweights
  • Anthony Pettis vs. Myles Price, lightweights
  • Rory MacDonald vs. Brett Cooper, welterweights
  • Larissa Pacheco vs. Zamzagul Fayzallonva, women’s lightweights
  • Dilano Taylor vs. Joao Zeferino, welterweights
  • Genah Fabian vs. Julia Budd, women’s lightweights
  • Sadibou Sy vs. Nikolay Aleksakhin, welterweights
  • Gleison Tibau vs. J. Al-Silawi, welterweights
  • Olena Kolesnyk vs. Abby Montes, women’s lightweights
  • Vanessa Melo vs. Martina Jindrova, women’s lightweights

Prediction

It’s hard to imagine picking someone off the PFL roster to beat Harrison. This is no knock against Mokhnatkina, who is a capable fighter. Instead, it’s a realization of Harrison’s dominance against PFL-level fighters, similar to Cyborg against Bellator’s home ground.

Mokhnatkina will be looking to surprise Harrison with some unorthodox attacks. The problem with such an approach is that it leaves openings for Harrison to get his hands on his opponent, how a takedown feels like a formality. Mokhnatkina will have trouble on the ground due to Harrison’s dominant positional approach to the grappling game, which means Sambo’s leg locks are unlikely to be a path to victory. Can Harrison finish? It seems more likely than not and the stoppage could come when Mokhnatkina gets into a bad position trying to attack a leg, leaving his head open for big punches. Pick: Harrison via TKO2