Two-time Professional Fighters League champion Kayla Harrison has offered an inspired plea after revealing she suffered a health scare this year.
The undefeated fighter with a record of 15-0 fought back tears on the MMA Hour With Ariel Helwani as she spoke about the support she received from friends and family.
Harrison stopped short of detailing the extent of her health troubles but explained that the tearful response to the question came after a tough year.
Watch the 2022 PFL World Championship featuring Rob Wilkinson and Kayla Harrison on November 26, streaming ad-free, live and exclusive on Stan Sport
“I’ve just had a lot of health stuff this year that I’ve kind of been going through behind the scenes,” said Harrison.
“I’m not ready to share, but it’s been a hard year and I would just encourage everyone – do your checkups, go to the doctor, hug the people you love. It’s so silly, but just don’t take anything for granted.
“I think that I’m, on the outside, probably one of the healthiest people on the planet, right? Like I’m a professional athlete, but shit can still happen.”
In September, the MMA was stunned by the sudden death of former UFC fighter Elias Theodorou at just 34 years old.
The Canadian died after suffering stage four colon cancer that metastasised to the liver.
In November, another former UFC fighter Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson died at 38-years-old after suffering from blood cancer and a rare autoimmune disease.
Harrison said that while athletes may appear fit and healthy on the outside, the reality is they still face health difficulties.
The two-time Olympic Games gold medallist in judo admitted she struggled to cope with her uncontrollable health struggles.
“You look at those guys, they’re dealing with something that you can’t outwork, you can’t dig deep and find a way to beat it,” she explained.
“This is something that you really have to surrender to and you’re totally out of control and you have to trust the process and really trust God and understand there’s a purpose for everything and kind of just come to terms with that.
“That is something that my whole life I have never been able to do. I think because of my past and because of my history, I’ve always been a bit of a control freak.
“I’ve been a perfectionist, I’m always in charge, nothing is ever out of my control. I handle everything, I work harder than everyone. I’m the straight A student, I’m the two-time Olympic gold medallist. I’m the this, I’m the that.”
Harrison said that while the health troubles scared her, it also helped her achieve a greater state of mind.
The revelation comes on the eve of her headline PFL World Championship fight against Larissa Pacheco of Brazil.
“There’s something really terrifying to me about not being in control, but have also found this year to be really freeing for me,” she said.
“Maybe it almost happened so that I could become a better version of me and I could become better as a result of this.
“I’ve never felt more at peace than I have this year, I’ve never been more scared, but I’ve also never felt more peace just realising that some shit is just out of my control.
“The most important thing I can do is live my life the way I want to live it. I don’t care what people online say.
“Honestly, I don’t care what anyone thinks. I just have to do what’s best for me and my family and that’s it.”
The PFL World Championship finale takes place on Saturday, November 26 (AEDT).
The undercard gets underway at 9am with the main card set to start at 12pm.
Coverage is live, ad-free and exclusive on Stan Sport.
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