We are just a couple of weeks away from the 2023 PFL Championships and one of the biggest stars on the card has seen a change in her fight. Former champion and Olympic Gold Medalist Kayla Harrison (15-1) will no longer be fighting Julia Budd (17-6).
Budd, a former Bellator champion, has withdrawn from the fight with an injury. This is the second time that a matchup between Harrison and Budd has fallen through. Originally, they were supposed to fight in the 2022 season before Budd suffered an injury. With Budd falling out, the PFL worked quickly and got a replacement for the former champion.
MMA Junkie was the first to report that Aspen Ladd (11-4) will be stepping up to face Kayla Harrison. Ladd wasn’t scheduled to be on the championship card, but she’s jumping at the opportunity to face a former champion in Kayla Harrison. This is the fight that Ladd wanted when she made the jump from the UFC to the PFL.
2023 PFL Championships
Ladd made her official debut last year at the 2022 Championships when she took on Julia Budd. Ladd was able to win a very close split decision. She lost in the season opener this year to Olena Kolesnyk, but she bounced back well with a second round submission over Karolina Sobek. However, she didn’t have the points to make the playoffs. Now, she gets her shot on the biggest stage against the biggest female star in the promotion.
We haven’t seen Kayla Harrison since the 2022 PFL Championships. That night, she took on Larissa Pacheco for the third time and put her undefeated record on the line. She had defeated Pacheco twice before, but the third fight was different. After a dominant opening frame, Harrison began to fade.
Pacheco put on a helluva performance and won a unanimous decision claiming the 2022 PFL Lightweight Championship and putting an end to the reign of dominance from Harrison. Harrison opted to not compete in this year’s featherweight season and she’s been waiting on the sidelines to fight. While it’s not the original fight she had, it’s still a big one in a big spot.