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The first leg of the
Professional Fighters League
’s regular season comes to an end
with
PFL 3
on Friday at Esports Stadium Arlington in Arlington,
Texas, and does so featuring a card complete with plenty of star
power at the top of the bill. After a brief period as perhaps the
sport’s most coveted free agent, Kayla
Harrison
returns to PFL in hopes of a threepeat as women’s
lightweight champion. The two-time Olympic gold medalist will
square off against Marina
Mokhnatkina
in the main event. Thus far, Harrison’s opponents
have been little more than props in the cage as the
American Top Team
standout builds her resume. Harrison is not
the only notable name set to compete at PFL 3. The card features a
host of other prominent faces, including Ray Cooper
III
, Rory
MacDonald
and Anthony
Pettis
. The main draw airs on ESPN2 and streams to ESPN+ at 9
p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT, while the prelims stream to ESPN+ at 5:30 p.m.
ET/2:30 p.m. PT.

Now to the PFL 3 “Harrison vs. Mokhnatkina” preview:

Women’s Lightweights

Kayla
Harrison
(12-0, 11-0 PFL) vs. Marina
Mokhnatkina
(6-2, 1-0 PFL)

There was far more suspense involving Harrison’s dalliance with
free agency than there was in any of her 2021 PFL bouts, as the
two-time Olympic gold medalist rolled to her second consecutive
championship while finishing all of her opposition inside of two
rounds. Ultimately, Harrison elected to stick with the organization
that pays her $1 million per belt, and she will once again be a
heavy favorite over the PFL women’s lightweight field. The talent
pool is shallow for women at 155 pounds, and Harrison possesses
rare athleticism for a fighter at the weight class. The American
Top Team product closes distance effortlessly and can execute a
variety of trips and throws from the clinch. Once on the canvas,
she is adept at maintaining control while landing purposeful
ground-and-pound that can either finish a fight or create openings
for a multitude of submissions. Thus far, the only person to make
it to the judges against Harrison is UFC veteran Larissa
Pacheco
, who did little more than survive eight lopsided rounds
against the judoka in a pair of 2019 decision defeats. Much will be
made of Mokhnatkina’s background as a six-time combat sambo world
champion, but there is little to suggest that the Russian will be
able to seriously threaten Harrison. In her PFL debut, Mokhnatkina
looked sluggish in outpointing converted bantamweight Claudia
Zamora
. Faced with a tentative opponent, Mokhnatkina did some
damage with leg kicks but appeared to gas early and did not show
the killer instinct one would like in that situation. Mokhnatkina
has some decent experience, with bouts against Amanda Bell,
Janay
Harding
and Liana Jojua
on her ledger, but that will not adequately prepare her for
Harrison, who has yet to show any chinks in her armor in the cage.
The combat sambo-versus-judo matchup will not really be a factor
here, and unless Mokhnatkina can threaten with a submission from
her back, this shapes up as the typical Harrison blowout. Look for
the two-time defending champion to get it done inside the distance
yet again.


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