The 2022 PFL regular season is just about halfway over, as following Friday night’s PFL 3 main event on ESPN2 and ESPN+, the MMA promotion will take a hiatus of a month-plus before resuming action in Atlanta the third Friday of June, but the PFL has one more tantalizing main event to go before it recesses for the next month.
The card is the first chance for women’s lightweights and welterweights to accumulate points in the standings in hopes of becoming the four qualifiers in those weight classes to advance to the 2022 PFL postseason this August.
Note: Effective with PFL 3 on Friday night, all remaining events in the PFL regular season will take place on Friday evenings.
Women’s Lightweight Champion Kayla Harrison Faces Marina Mokhnatkina in PFL 3 Main Event
This Friday night, the PFL ends its three-week residency in Arlington, TX at ESports Stadium with an 11-fight card, culminating with the PFL 3 main event, where a familiar face makes her return after a stint on the free agent wire.
Two-time defending PFL Women’s Lightweight Champion Kayla Harrison (12-0 MMA, 0-0 PFL 2022) begins her bid to secure the title for the third time as she faces off against Marina Mokhnatkina (6-2 MMA, 0-0 PFL 2022, tournament debut.)
As with all PFL regular season bouts, the PFL 3 main event will be an advertised maximum of three rounds at five minutes per round to close the show in Dallas.
PFL 3 Main Event Fighter Comparison
Heading into the PFL 3 main event this Friday night, both Kayla Harrison and Marina Mokhnatkina stand level in height at 5-foot-8.
In addition, the two combatants also are deadlocked in reach at 66 inches apiece, but it’s the leg reach category where Harrison and Mokhnatkina gain some separation, as Mokhnatkina owns a three-inch advantage (44 inches to 41 inches) over Harrison.
Champion Kayla Harrison Stays Humble Ahead of PFL 3 Main Event
Kayla Harrison enters Friday night’s headliner having yet to lose in her MMA career, most recently scoring a second-round armbar submission against Taylor Guardado on Oct. 27 last year in PFL 10: Championships to take the $1 million prize.
After a bid in free agency this past offseason, Harrison made the decision to return to the PFL’s active roster for the 2022 tournament, but remains humble about herself ahead of this weekend’s PFL 3 main event.
“I think in a lot of people’s eyes, they think that I ran or that I took the money or that I’m just all talk,” Harrison said in a recent interview on the Fighter vs. Writer podcast. “These people really don’t understand contract negotiations. I will say I had an opportunity to go fight and I accepted it. PFL matched that offer so I was going to go fight– I wasn’t going to do a tune-up, I wasn’t going to dip my toes in the water. I was going to go fight.”
Harrison later reasserted her humbleness.
“But I’m not running from anybody,” she said. “I’m not hiding from anybody. I’m not afraid of anybody. I do want to be the greatest of all-time. Good things take time, great things take even longer and I’m patient. I’m going to be patient and I’m going to keep doing what I do and I’m going to be so good that they can’t ignore me.”
Although Kayla Harrison’s fought 12 times ahead of the PFL 3 main event on Friday night, she’s quickly becoming a household name in MMA, with Cris Cyborg calling Harrison “the next Ronda Rousey“, but can the former Olympian in judo make it 13 in a row this weekend?
Marina Mokhnatkina Readies For Toughest Bout of Career vs. Harrison in PFL 3 Main Event
In the other corner, Marina Mokhnatkina enters the PFL 3 main event on Friday evening having posted a record of 3-2 in her last five fights and the former Bellator MMA is currently on a two-fight winning streak, with both of those wins coming by unanimous decision.
Last time out, she scored a unanimous decision victory after three rounds in a showcase fight against Claudia Zamora during PFL 8 back on Aug. 19, 2021, but Kayla Harrison is undoubtedly going to be the toughest opponent that Mokhnatkina has faced to-date in her career as a fighter.
“I’m not under pressure, I’m just patiently waiting for my time,” Mokhnatkina said through her translator in an interview with MMA Mania’s YouTube channel. “I’m calm and I’m ready for a hurricane.”
For Marina Mokhnatkina, the time is almost at hand, so will she be able a fighter of Kayla Harrison’s caliber on Friday night?
Tune into the PFL 3 main event and find out.
Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction
Stylistically, the PFL 3 main event seems to favor Kayla Harrison, a former Olympic gold-medalist and sixth dan black belt in judo, compared to Marina Mokhnatkina’s status as a decorated champion in sambo fighting, with 16 titles to her credit all told , including eight national championships in her native Russia.
Harrison Can Be Brutal With Her Submissions
Throughout her MMA career, one constant with Kayla Harrison’s fight game has been her ability to score the victory by submission, something that’s been evident right from the start.
In 2018, during a showcase fight against Brittney Elkin, Harrison immediately took control of the contest, taking Elkin to the clinch and executing an inside trip to take her down and put her on her back.
From there, she grappled with Elkin, converting to the half-guard position and posturing up to land punches to her head from the ground and pound to soften her up for a possible submission attempt.
Harrison’s ground game told the story the rest of the fight, where she eventually transitioned to a tight armbar submission, with Elkin rolling over and tapping out.
If Harrison is able to get as little as a single takedown on Mokhnatkina, look for her to land punches in bunches to soften her up.
Once she’s able to do that, it could be done and dusted in the PFL 3 main event as she locks in a submission.
Mokhnatkina Can Finish With an Armbar of Her Own
In the other corner, Marina Mokhnatkina subscribes to the gospel according to Lee Corso:
“Not so fast, my friend.”
She’s been able to stop her opposition with an armbar of her own in the past, as she illustrated in her third MMA bout against Irina Degtyareva in 2017.
In the first round of a scheduled three, Mokhnatkina immediately wobbled Degtyareva with a left-handed punch before catching her with a leg kick and landing a few more punches before taking her down to the center of the mat and landing ground and pound shots to soften her up.
From there, Mokhnatkina was able to establish top position on the ground and apply enough torque to sink in the armbar to get Degtyareva to tap out.
Look for Marina Mokhnatkina to attempt a takedown as soon as possible against Kayla Harrison in the PFL 3 main event on Friday night.
If she’s able to beat Kayla Harrison to the takedown, Mokhnatkina could potentially spring the upset of the year so far in MMA.
As has been chronicled during the film study, the PFL 3 main event will be a battle against two submission specialists.
Whichever competitor in this fight is able to score the takedown against her opponent first could very well be the winner of the fight.
One final note:
Fights involving Kayla Harrison tend to end almost as quickly as they begin, so make that fridge run before this main event starts on Friday night.
Prediction: Kayla Harrison by First-Round Submission.
Featured image credit to PFL MMA