With her first win in almost three years, Aspen Ladd is ready to start a new chapter in her career.
In her opinion, she is already well ahead of the PFL’s top female talent: Larissa Pacheco and Kayla Harrison.
“I think Larisa has progressed incredibly,” Ladd said after a decision victory over the former Bellator champion in her featherweight debut at the 2022 PFL Championship. “She handled the punches really well.
“I think Kayla has been queen for a long time. But if you look at any of their resumes, it’s absolutely nothing compared to the people I’ve fought and been in fights with. So you have different levels of experience with different levels of opponents.”
In the women’s lightweight tournament final, Pacheco defeated Harrison on Friday in one of the biggest upsets of the year. It was Harrison’s first loss as an MMA professional since her illustrious judo career, where she was a two-time Olympian.
The main blow to Harrison and other fighters in the PFL was their level of competition. Ladd’s arrival solidified the tournament-based promotion’s line-up, although she currently competes in a different division; she moved up to featherweight after leaving the UFC as a result of another weight issue that caused her fight at UFC Vegas 60 to be cancelled.
Ladd, 27, said the experience of fighting in the higher weight class was a completely new experience.
“Delighted,” she said. “I’ve had serious health issues, not just with my knee for the last couple of years, like, it’s been bad. Autoimmune thing, all my hair fell out. It’s a little shaved [hair] not because I wanted to, but because I had nothing left. And just get well again, feel good and not be able to live and fight and do what I love and not feel like crap. It’s been years of many difficult things and it’s just a huge relief.”
And while the fight was significantly closer than she wanted, Ladd felt like she was the rightful winner on Friday, even if she freaked out when the scoresheets were read.
“There is always doubt at the end of any fight like this,” she said. “I felt like I did enough, absolutely, but it’s still a disappointing situation. She’s a very strong opponent and you never know until they call your name. So of course it was nerve-wracking, but do I think I’ve done enough? Yes.”
Check out Ladd’s full interview below, courtesy of MMA Sucka.