ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Kayla Harrison made an Military veteran faucet out and moved nearer to cashing in on the richest combat of her professional profession: her seek for gold over, Harrison can stake her declare to $1 million within the PFL Championship.
Harrison, a two-time judo Olympic gold medalist, has been pushed because the face of the MMA promotion that pushes playoffs and a championship format that ends Dec. 31 in New York with a $1 million prize for every of its six weight class champions.
Harrison (5-Zero) expects to ring within the new 12 months a champion — and a submission win over Morgan Frier on Thursday night time helped clinch the No. 2 seed within the ladies’s light-weight division. Sarah Kaufman, a former UFC fighter, holds the highest spot within the factors standings and may very well be on target for a championship combat towards Harrison.
“It’s going to be the PFL’s dream,” Harrison yelled contained in the cage, “and I’m going to be a millionaire!”
The PFL held the primary of three straight regular-season playing cards at Ovation Corridor (inside Ocean On line casino Resort) that might set the playoff discipline for 3 combat nights in October in Las Vegas. The highest eight fighters within the 5 males’s divisions should win two bouts in a single night time to earn a berth within the finals.
Launched final season out of the ashes of World Sequence of Preventing, the PFL entered a second season with the championship bouts set to run this 12 months on the Hulu Theatre in Madison Sq. Backyard on ESPN2. PFL, which counts comic Kevin Hart amongst its celeb buyers , reached a multi-year cope with the community to air fights on ESPN and the streaming ESPN-plus service — the identical TV house as business chief UFC.
“It’s a complementary product to the UFC and others,” PFL CEO Peter Murray mentioned. “It’s a special product expertise and on a special night time of the week. What we find out about this fan, they need extra reside high quality product. We’re in a position to provide that.”
The 29-year-old Harrison was the primary attraction of an eight-fight card (Kaufman was a walkover winner) that had early bouts run on ESPN-plus and 4 fights in prime time on ESPN2.
“It’s actual cash on this sport,” Murray mentioned. “We lead with fighters first, allow them to do their enterprise and pay them. When cash’s at stake, not solely do the fighters lean in, what did we see tonight?”
PFL had 5 first-round finishes and the subsequent winner within the bracket awaits — there’s no want for the standard fighter callout for a combat which will tantalize followers but by no means occur. The lightweights and featherweights combat July 25 and lightweight heavyweights and heavyweights full the common season on Aug. eight on the Boardwalk.
Harrison graded her combat night time a B-minus — identical to PFL, making an attempt to attain an A. The sector had perhaps 2,000 followers and the promotion has but to catch on with the TV viewers, struggling to attract 150,000 viewers on cable. The lag in combat playing cards — there’s a two-month hole between the ultimate playoff card on Oct. 31 and championship night time — and lack of starpower in a sport already going through a glut of secondary promotions places PFL on the backburner.
“This 12 months is admittedly all about high quality distribution and broad attain,” Murray mentioned. “It’s the early days. We’re targeted on that reside video presentation and distributing it all over the world. That’s the place we’re placing lots of our creativity, lots of our sources. As we proceed to develop consciousness, and construct the demand for the reside occasion expertise, that can comply with.”
Harrison, a detailed good friend of UFC bantamweight champ Amanda Nunes, might spark the expansion.
“I’ve made it very clear that my objective is to go down as top-of-the-line to ever do it,” Harrison mentioned.
Nonetheless very uncooked within the cage, PFL has constructed a 155-pound division round Harrison. No U.S. judoka — man or girl — had ever gained an Olympic gold medal earlier than Harrison beat Britain’s Gemma Gibbons to win the ladies’s 78-kilogram and beneath division on the 2012 Olympics in London . She gained gold once more 4 years later on the Rio de Janeiro Video games and made her MMA debut final 12 months.
“We anticipate to be together with her for a few years,” Murray mentioned.
All Harrison cares about is the subsequent combat — and a few large bucks in her pocket to go along with the gold round her neck.
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