The 2022 PFL regular season is just about over, but not before the women’s lightweight and welterweight brackets are locked in on Friday night after the PFL 6 main event.
As has been the case the past two Friday nights, PFL 6 will originate from Atlanta’s Overtime Elite Arena, and as previously stated, PFL 6 will be the last chance for welterweights and women’s lightweights to accumulate points in the standings toward becoming the four qualifiers in those divisions who advance to the August semifinals, MMA‘s only playoffs.
All roads in the PFL lead to Black Friday, Nov. 25 and PFL 10: Championships at a yet-to-be-disclosed arena, where $6 million (USD) in prize money will be handed out to this year’s champions.
A Late Change to Friday’s PFL 6 Main Event
Initially, the PFL 6 main event on Friday evening was to have featured two-time defending PFL Women’s Lightweight Champion Kayla Harrison (13-0 MMA, 1-0 PFL 2022, three points in the standings) battling against former Bellator MMA Women’s Featherweight Champion Julia Budd (16-4 MMA, 0-1 PFL 2022, zero points in the standings) in a three-round fight at five minutes per round to close the show.
Late last week, just days before the fight was originally scheduled to take place, Budd withdrew from the PFL 6 main event due to an undisclosed injury.
With Budd out of the picture for this coming Friday, Kaitlin Young (12-12-1 MMA, 0-0 PFL 2022, zero points in the standings) will step in on less than one week’s notice as an alternate for the headliner.
PFL 6 Main Event Fighter Comparison
Entering the revised PFL 6 main event on Friday night, Kaitlin Young stands as the taller competitor at 5-foot-9, while champion Kayla Harrison counters with a 5-foot-8 frame.
As far as reach advantage is concerned for Friday evening’s headliner, it’s a split, as Young owns a three-inch advantage in arm reach (69 inches to 66 inches) over Harrison, who owns a three-inch leg reach advantage (41 inches to 38 inches) over Young.
Kayla Harrison’s Career About Turning Tragedy Into Triumph
The champion has yet to lose thus far in her career ahead of the PFL 6 main event, earning three points in the standings back on the evening of May 6 by securing a unanimous decision victory over Marina Mokhnatkina in the PFL 3 main event.
This was a rarity for Kayla Harrison, who saw her fight go to the scorecards for just the second time in her MMA career.
But she’s been waging a war more important outside of the PFL Smart Cage, and it was born out of personal tragedy years ago.
The former Olympian also serves as founder of The Fearless Foundation, a nonprofit organization designed to help others in similar situations, something she discussed in her post-fight press conference in May.
“I was sexually abused by my first judo coach,” Harrison began. “Really, when I started speaking out and sharing my story when I was older, I kind of came to the knowledge that there’s not a big foundation for survivors of sexual abuse, but it is very prevalent in our society.”
Harrison shared the sobering statistics of sexual assault among the country’s youth.
“One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually assaulted or abused by the age of 18, and that’s just the kids who say something,” she said. “So, the foundation is all about raising awareness, it’s all about education.”
All proceeds of Harrison’s book, Fighting Back, will help fund The Fearless Foundation.
Quite simply, this is a person who’s been able to fight back and turn tragedy into triumph, and outcome notwithstanding on Friday night in the PFL 6 main event, Kayla Harrison is truly a winner.
How Will Kaitlin Young Deal With Ring Rust Ahead of PFL 6 Main Event?
In the other corner, Kaitlin Young enters the PFL 6 main event this weekend having posted a record of 2-3 in her last five fights, and is currently on a two-fight losing streak.
Last time out, she dropped a unanimous decision at the hands of the aforementioned Julia Budd on Oct. 27 during the PFL Championships card.
With Young only being elevated to Friday’s main event last week, the question for her going into the fight is just how much ring rust does she have?
Having to go from not fighting in almost eight months to accepting a fight almost at the last minute is a daunting task, so it’ll be interesting to see how she does in this short-notice bout.
Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction
Stylistically, the PFL 6 main event on Friday night looks to favor Kayla Harrison, a former Olympic gold medalist in judo, compared to Kaitlin Young, a black belt in Taekwondo and a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Kayla Harrison Can Score The Knockout In Addition to the Submission
Although Kayla Harrison’s fight game is predicated heavily upon scoring the submission, she’s been known to punch her way to victory on occasion, as she did versus Courtney King in Invicta FC during the PFL’s 2020 hiatus due to the coronavirus.
During the second round of a scheduled three, with Harrison already bloodying King with a grotesque cut by way of ground and pound shots in the first round, Harrison drove her to the ground from the clinch.
At this point, she reassumed the top position and again scored with ground and pound shots to try and soften her up for a submission attempt.
Although King tried to gain control of the match by hunting for a submission of her own, she slowed the pace of the fight to a crawl, forcing the referee to stand them back up again.
Late in the round, Harrison again took mount to try and lock in an armbar submission, opting against it to land more ground and pound shots, giving her another cut, landing a final flurry of ground and pound shots from the crucifix position to score the victory.
If the cage mat gets too slick for Harrison to try for a submission, look for her to land heavy ground and pound shots en route to a knockout.
Young Can Punch Her Way to Victory, Too
Much like Kayla Harrison, Kaitlin Young also has experience in Invicta FC, and Young can also score the knockout if need be, as the late Sarah Patterson found out firsthand in 2018 in her last fight before passing away in 2021 at 36 years of age.
Although the fight was scheduled for three rounds at five minutes per round, Young needed less than one round to score the victory.
Young bided her time during the first round before connecting on a lead leg kick that hurt Patterson about a minute and 20 seconds into the period, landing a flurry of punches against the cage fence to score the knockout.
If Kaitlin Young can land a leg kick on Kayla Harrison, she just might score an upset to potentially get into the playoffs in the PFL 6 main event.
There’s really no better way for the PFL to end its regular season than this fight on Friday night.
You’ve got so much intrigue in the PFL 6 main event on both sides of the pairing, with Kayla Harrison trying to return to the playoffs for the third time in a row and a late replacement in Kaitlin Young trying to thwart that effort after having accepted the fight less than a week ago.
Don’t miss this one.
Featured image credits to Professional Fighters League