Harrison’s path to becoming one of the most sought after free agents in combat sports history has been as rapid as it’s been destructive. Following back-to-back Olympic gold medal successes in 2012 and 2016, the judoka made the transition to mixed martial arts. Fast forward three years and Harrison has already reached a rare stage of dominance.
In 11 professional fights, Harrison boasts an unblemished record that includes nine stoppages, five by knockout and four via submission. All but one of her outings came in the rapidly rising Professional Fighters League promotion. Just seven bouts into her career, Harrison achieved championship success for the first time when she won the 2019 PFL Lightweight Championship.
On Wednesday, Harrison will be hoping to secure consecutive PFL title successes. After three first-round victories this season, the Ohio native has found herself preparing for another 155-pound final, this time against Taylor Guardado.
Harrison Doesn’t Believe She Has To Fight In The UFC To Be The Greatest
Harrison’s PFL 10 clash will be the last on her current contract. That’s led to rampant speculation about where she could choose to venture to next should she not decide to stay put. Earlier in the year, Harrison suggested the PFL would have to offer her a significantly more lucrative contract in order to keep her for another season.
However, Dominance MMA CEO Ali Abdelaziz recently expressed his confidence that a deal with Harrison’s current promotion will be agreed upon. In addition, Harrison has revealed that she has a number in mind that, if met, will make her choose the security of the PFL over the uncertainty of free agency.
With her future certainly up in the air heading into her 12th career fight, Harrison has addressed her current situation. During an interview with ESPN MMA’s Marc Raimondi, the 31-year-old suggested her label as the sport’s biggest free agent is the mark of all the hard work she’s put into her career.
“I worked hard to become MMA’s biggest free agent of all time. This isn’t something that just happened this year, where everyone, I mean people may just now be tuning in, but I’ve been busting my ass since I was six years old to get to the point where I’m the most sought after free agent in the history of this sport. That’s the kind of pressure I want, that’s the kind of news I want spreading about me. I want people to be like, ‘Damn, she’s so good, where’s she gonna go, she can go anywhere, she can do anything.’ That’s what I want, that’s what I’ve worked hard for.”
Discussing her goal of becoming the greatest of all time, Harrison commented on the perception that she can only do so if she reaches the top in the UFC. According to the lightweight star, she has multiple paths to becoming the greatest, not all of which includes a stint in the Dana White-led promotion.
“I think that everyone is entitled to their opinion. Of course, the UFC is the face of MMA. They have done such a great job and they’ve been around for so long, and they’ve pretty much made UFC synonymous with MMA, some people don’t know the difference still, to this day… Of course, it’s where the greatest of all time have fought. Would I like to fight there? I think that each fighter has their own journey, I have my journey, and I think there are a couple of different paths I could take to going down as the greatest, and the UFC is one of them. But I don’t think it has to be, we’ll see.”
With her future uncertain heading into PFL 10, many believe we could see Kayla Harrison sign with the UFC sooner rather than later. However, the promotion’s president Dana White recently suggested the judoka should remain with the PFL rather than compete on the talent-filled UFC roster.
In response, Harrison promised that White will see her become the greatest, whether in his promotion or outside of it. Only time will tell if Harrison can surpass the likes of Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko, but at 11-0, she’s certainly made a solid start to her quest to do so.
Do you think Kayla Harrison needs to conquer the UFC before being considered the GOAT?