Aspen Ladd will enter the PFL’s 2023 featherweight season but won’t rule out the possibility of special one-offs.
Ladd (10-3), who left the UFC earlier this year after a plethora of weight-cutting issues, was victorious in her promotional debut, defeating former Bellator champion Julia Budd by split decision in a women’s featherweight showcase bout last Friday at the 2022 PFL Championships.
With potential big fights against 2022 PFL lightweight champ Larissa Pacheco and two-time Olympic gold medalist Kayla Harrison out there, Ladd is keeping her options open as the new year approaches.
“I want to do both,” Ladd told MMA Junkie Radio. “So if something was to occur before the season or after the season or whatever, I would love to do that. But I am definitely planning on going into the season right now.”
Pacheco scored a massive upset win against Harrison in the women’s lightweight final, handing Harrison the first loss of her career. But with Harrison having already defeated Pacheco twice in the past, Ladd isn’t sure which direction the PFL will go or how that could impact the possibility of fighting them.
“It’s an interesting situation, though, because it’s not like they only fought once or twice,” Ladd said. “If they rematch, it’s gonna be their fourth time, and in this situation, a rematch is usually what makes sense. Yeah, it definitely has implications for me but not in a tournament format. Could I fight either one of those women outside of the tournament? Yes, and I would gladly do it.
“But obviously the world at large thought Kayla was gonna win, so now it’s really what does Larissa want to do? What does the PFL want to do? Do they want that rematch?”
The trilogy between Pacheco and Harrison was close. In their two previous fights that both went the distance, Pacheco lost all eight rounds combined. At the 2022 PFL Championships, all three judges scored it for her 48-47, even though she spent a fair amount of time on her back.
Ladd “definitely” thought Pacheco won.
“I thought it was a really great, competitive fight,” Ladd said. “I definitely thought Larissa won and by the time it got to the end of it, as somebody watching and as a fighter that – I know better than a lot of people, but I’m still not a judge even though some judges shouldn’t be judges, but I definitely thought (Pacheco) won that fight.