PFL’s 2019 final card has been set with six championship fights for $1 million each.
Two-time Olympic judo champion Kayla Harrison will headline the event against Larissa Pacheco for the women’s lightweight championship, officials told ESPN. The event will take place Dec. 31 at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theatre in New York. PFL is expected to make the lineup official Thursday. All main-card title fights will be five rounds.
Harrison (6-0) is perhaps the best women’s MMA prospect in the world. She has won five of her six pro fights via finish, and all have come with PFL, which signed her in 2016 after the Olympics. Harrison, 29, debuted in 2018. She defeated Bobbi Jo Dalziel in the PFL semifinals Oct. 11 to reach the final.
Pacheco (13-3) is the only woman Harrison has not finished. Harrison beat her by unanimous decision back in May in the PFL season opener. Pacheco, 25, has fought in the UFC and competed on “The Ultimate Fighter.” The Brazilian defeated former Strikeforce and Invicta FC women’s bantamweight champion Sarah Kaufman in the semis.
In the PFL lightweight final, Natan Schulte will try to make it two $1 million paydays in a row. The 2018 winner faces upstart Loik Radzhabov. Lance Palmer is also going for two straight PFL titles, him at featherweight. He faces replacement Alex Gilpin. Palmer’s original opponent Daniel Pineda failed a drug test and has a hearing set in front of the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) next month. Gilpin was already tabbed as the alternate because he was the highest-seeded semifinal loser, per PFL rules.
“The Nevada Athletic Commission has extended its temporary suspension of Daniel Pineda until January 2020, making him ineligible to compete in the PFL 2019 Championship on New Year’s Eve,” PFL said in a statement. “Alex Gilpin, as the alternate, will instead have the chance to fight Lance Palmer for the Featherweight Championship.”
In the main-card opener, Emiliano Sordi faces UFC vet Jordan Johnson for the light heavyweight title. Brendan Loughnane, who starred last summer on Dana White’s “Contender Series,” will have his second PFL fight in a “new fighter showcase” on the prelims against David Alex Valente.