This 150-pound catchweight contest features the long-awaited return of Kayla Harrison, marking her first appearance with the PFL since dropping a decision to Larissa Pacheco in last year’s Women’s Lightweight World Title fight. That upset loss marked the first of Harrison’s professional MMA career, which stretches back to 2018. Harrison, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in judo, has finishes in all but three of her victories, with two of those decisions coming against Pacheco. Harrison defeated Pacheco via decision in 2019 and submitted Taylor Guardado in 2021 to win PFL Women’s Lightweight gold.
Aspen Ladd joined the PFL last year, debuting in a big way with a decision win over Julia Budd — a woman who has held MMA gold at women’s featherweight previously. Ladd, a grappling specialist who has finishes in 8 of her 11 MMA victories, competed in the women’s featherweight division this year, dropping a majority decision to Olena Kolesnyk but earning a second-round submission of Karolina Sobek. Ladd, however, narrowly missed the playoffs.
Will Harrison get a rebound victory in her first fight in almost exactly a year? Or will Ladd add another jaw-dropping win to her resume?
Ladd throws some jabs to start things off. Harrison lands a couple of lefts. Straight left from Harrison. An overhand from Harrison. Hook from Ladd catches Harrison’s attention. Ladd backing Harrison up. Harrison slips on a high kick attempt, but Harrison is able to use her momentum to trip up Ladd. Harrison goes into crucifix position. Harrison landing left hands as she’s in side control. Harrison transitions into mount, but Ladd wrestles and gets back up. Ladd looks for her own takedown, but Harrison rolls through it and gets back on top!
Harrison whips back over into side control. Harrison postures up and lands two shots as Ladd tries to use her hips to change position. Harrison with a right hand. Harrison misses a strong left. Harrison tries to get to Ladd’s back. Several right hands by Harrison. She continues as Ladd tries to get back to her feet. Harrison has Ladd pinned against the fence. Knee to the head by Harrison.
Left hand by Ladd. Left counter overhand by Ladd. Ladd with a small combination. Harrison tries to get inside, but Ladd tries to fend her off. Harrison gets a leg anyway, and she dumps Ladd to her back. Harrison lands to Ladd’s side. Ladd keeps her guard closed as Harrison continues to land at Ladd’s body in the position. Ladd’s guard is opened and Harrison tries to transition into side control. Ladd pushes Harrison off with a scramble and gets to her feet, but Harrison keeps her pinned against the SmartCage. Harrison tries to get Ladd’s back and brings her down. Ladd scrambles to return to her feet, but Harrison brings her back down, landing in side control.
Harrison lands some left hands on Ladd’s head. Harrison appears to be searching for an armbar. Harrison looks for mount, but Ladd counters to make it just a half-mount. Ladd uses the butterfly guard to return to her feet again, but Harrison keeps a hold of her. Harrison with some knees to the leg of Ladd. Harrison gets to Ladd’s back, laying her out. Harrison gets a choke in on Ladd but is unable to sink it in fully before the bell.
The two work their jabs early. Low kick and a straight from Harrison. Left hand by Harrison. Left hand by Harrison. Ladd misses a spinning attack. Left hand from Harrison. Jab by Harrison. Ladd misses a right hand. Right hand by Harrison. Ladd lands a left but can’t follow it up with a right. Left hand by Harrison. Low kick by Ladd. Ladd with a left hand. Left hand by Harrison. Harrison locks up with Ladd and scores a double-leg takedown. Ladd scrambles, however, and takes Harrison’s back!
Aspen Ladd battles back and briefly takes Kayla's back. Kayla able to get back on top!#PFLWorldChampionship LIVE NOW— PFL (@PFLMMA) November 25, 2023
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Ladd can’t get the hooks in right away, but she’s fighting for it. Harrison scrambles to get on top. Ladd looks for an armbar, but Harrison gets out of it. Harrison looking for an arm-triangle choke again. Ladd gets back to her feet, but Harrison keeps her against the SmartCage. Harrison lands a big knee and takes her back down. Ladd gets back to her feet, but Harrison is still having her way. Harrison foot sweeps Ladd. Harrison with a knee to the head. The fight ends with Harrison keeping Ladd pinned against the fence.
Kayla Harrison def. Aspen Ladd via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)