PFL 3: Marina Mokhnatkina Proves Game, but Kayla Harrison’s Win Never in Doubt

Marina Mokhnatkina and Kayla Harrison, PFL 3
Marina Mokhnatkina and Kayla Harrison, PFL 3 at the Esports Stadium Arlington in Arlington, Texas, Friday, May 6, 2022. (Cooper Neill / PFL)

Come the PFL 3 main event in Arlington, Texas on Friday night, it was Kayla Harrison time.

The two-time defending PFL champ was kicking off her 2022 campaign in the women’s lightweight division against Marina Mokhnatkina, a Sambo specialist. Harrison’s Judo, Makhnatkina’s Sambo — which would prove superior? A semi-legit question, but Harrison was a big favorite, after absolutely clobbering the bulk of her first 12 opponents in MMA.

The main event duo ate about a full minute of clock circling and feeling each other out at PFL 3, before Harrison closed the distance and landed her first takedown of the evening. Mokhnatkina would attack an arm off her back, and eventually scramble back up, eating a knee to the body for her troubles. With a body lock in place, Harrison looked to get the fight back down, but the Russian managed to keep things standing, using the fence and some solid balance. Harrison, however, was in control, but Mokhnatkina would roll into a kneebar attempt. Only problem, when it wasn’t there, she had Harrison on top of her.

From there, Harrison moved to the back, getting both hooks in. With a minute left in the opening round, Harrison looked to flatten her opponent out, but was too high up on the back. Mokhnatkina scrambled back up, and the rest of the round played out on the feet.

About a minute into the second, Kayla Harrison had landed another takedown. But again, a very game Mokhnatkina was back to her feet quickly. The boost in morale from escaping the first round against Harrison certainly didn’t hurt, as it was a feat few of Kayla’s opponents had managed. The problem was, Mokhnatkina had shown little to no offence in the opening round. Again in the second, she’d look to roll into a kneebar attempt. This time, Harrison squirmed free, then fired a heavy right hand before settling in on top. Mokhnatkina employed a butterfly guard, and trapped Harrison’s arms with overhooks. Harrison backed off, fired another big right hand, and stepped over into half-guard, then side control.

Harrison went hunting for an arm-bar, and Mokhnatkina then gave up her back. Harrison got one hook in, sitting upright with her back to the fence. With time running out, however, she couldn’t get under the chin. And Mokhnatkina would escape out just before the horn.

In round three, Harrison changed levels, ducking under as Mokhnatkina moved in. While the initial takedown attempt was fought off, Harrison took control of the back. Mokhnatkina fought the wrists, but Harrison freed her left hand, dropping several punches. Still, the Russian fighter survived and got back to her feet.

Marina Mokhnatkina was resilient, crafty, and clearly not intimated by Olympic gold medalist Kayla Harrison on Friday. But her biggest win was in surviving three rounds with the returning champion. And that simply wasn’t enough to win the fight.

Official Result: Kayla Harrison def. Marina Mokhnatkina by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)


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