Kayla Harrison is all set to make her long-awaited return to the PFL SmartCage, and she’ll do so at the PFL’s 2023 season finale in Washington DC.
Former two-time lightweight champion Harrison, who lost out to Larissa Pacheco in the lightweight final last December, hasn’t competed in MMA so far this year, with the PFL opting not to run a women’s lightweight season in 2023.
But the two-time Olympic judo champion is now booked to return, with Harrison set to take on former Bellator featherweight champion Julia Budd in a non-title bout at the 2023 PFL World Championship event on Friday, November 24. The pair will meet at the second time of asking after their originally planned meeting during the 2022 lightweight season was scratched due to Budd sustaining an injury ahead of the matchup.
Though not expressly stated in the promotional release announcing the bout, social media material from the PFL states that the upcoming matchup will take place at featherweight, meaning Harrison will be moving down to 145 pounds for the first time in her MMA career.
It’s also an opportunity for Budd to return to action after her elimination after the regular season portion of the 2023 featherweight season. Budd lost a unanimous decision to Pacheco in her first bout of the campaign, then defeated Martina Jindrova in her second matchup. Unfortunately for “The Jewel,” her decision win wasn’t enough to qualify her for the playoffs.
The event, which takes place at The Anthem in the US capital, will feature six one-million-dollar championship bouts as the PFL brings the curtain down on its 2023 season on a special pay-per-view card.
The lightweight final will pit two-sport standout Clay Collard against 2022 lightweight champion Olivier Aubin-Mercier, while another returning champion, welterweight Sadibou Sy, will look to make it back-to-back titles at 170 pounds with victory over Magomed Magomedkerimov.
Heavy hitters Renan Ferreira and Denis Goltsov will do battle for the heavyweight championship, while last season’s women’s lightweight champion Pacheco will look to make PFL history by claiming back-to-back titles in different weight classes when she takes on Marina Mokhnatkina in the women’s 145-pound finale.
The men’s featherweight final will pit surprise package Jesus Pinedo against Gabriel Braga, while the 205-pound champion will be crowned when Josh Silveira takes on Impa Kasanganay.