ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Kayla Harrison made an Military veteran faucet out and moved nearer to cashing in on the richest battle 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 evening helped clinch the No. 2 seed within the girls’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 battle in opposition to Harrison.
“It is going to be the PFL’s dream,” Harrison yelled contained in the cage, “and I’ll 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 may set the playoff subject for 3 battle nights in October in Las Vegas. The highest eight fighters within the 5 males’s divisions should win two bouts in a single evening to earn a berth within the finals.
Launched final season out of the ashes of World Collection of Combating, 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 movie star traders , reached a multi-year take care of the community to air fights on ESPN and the streaming ESPN-plus service — the identical TV dwelling as trade chief UFC.
“It is a complementary product to the UFC and others,” PFL CEO Peter Murray mentioned. “It is a totally different product expertise and on a unique evening of the week. What we learn about this fan, they need extra stay high quality product. We’re in a position to provide that.”
The 29-year-old Harrison was the principle attraction of an eight-fight card (Kaufman was a walkover winner ) that had early bouts run on ESPN-plus and 4 fights in primetime on ESPN2.
“It is 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 isn’t any want for the standard fighter callout for a battle which will tantalize followers but by no means occur. The lightweights and featherweights battle July 25 and light-weight heavyweights and heavyweights full the common season on Aug. eight on the Boardwalk.
Harrison graded her battle evening a B-minus — similar to PFL, attempting to attain an A. The world had possibly 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 battle playing cards — there is a two-month hole between the ultimate playoff card on Oct. 31 and championship evening — and lack of starpower in a sport already going through a glut of secondary promotions places PFL on the backburner.
“This 12 months is absolutely all about high quality distribution and broad attain,” Murray mentioned. “It is the early days. We’re centered on that stay video presentation and distributing it around the globe. That is the place we’re placing numerous our creativity, numerous our assets. As we proceed to develop consciousness, and construct the demand for the stay occasion expertise, that may comply with.”
Harrison, a detailed pal of UFC bantamweight champ Amanda Nunes, may spark the expansion.
“I’ve made it very clear that my purpose is to go down as the most effective 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 underneath 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 count on to be along with her for a few years,” Murray mentioned.
All Harrison cares about is the subsequent battle — and a few massive bucks in her pocket to go together with the gold round her neck.
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