Despite only making her professional debut in 2018, Harrison has developed into one of the most sought after stars in mixed martial arts today. Having built a career as a talented judoka, culminating in Olympic gold medals at the 2012 and 2016 games, the Ohio native transition to MMA.
Now 12 fights into her career, Harrison boasts an unblemished record that includes five knockouts and five submissions, two world titles, and two $1 million checks. Her success has come in the surging PFL promotion. In 2019, Harrison won the promotion’s first women’s lightweight tournament. After a season-break due to COVID-19, the 31-year-old looked to experience a second title crowning this year.
After first-round finishes over Mariana Morais, Cindy Dandois, and Genah Fabian, Harrison faced Taylor Guardado at the season finale last month. With a second-round armbar, the dominant lightweight secured her second PFL championship.
Is Harrison targeting A Third PFL Championship?
Harrison’s victory at PFL 10 signaled the final fight on her contract. Throughout the season and ahead of the final, most discussions surrounded what’s next for her as she entered the world of free agency as perhaps the most sought after individual in the sport’s history.
Despite initially suggesting the promotion would have to offer her life-changing money in order to retain her services, the chances of Harrison staying put for at least another year seem higher than ever. After her manager Ali Abdelaziz revealed his confidence in a deal with the PFL brass being completed, Harrison suggested she’d much rather choose the security of a new deal over the uncertainty of free agency.
The latest hint at her future appears to point towards the same sentiment. Harrison recently attended UFC 268 at Madison Square Garden, where she was sat next to the likes of Michael Bisping and middleweight contender Marvin Vettori. During a recent episode of his Believe You Me podcast, “The Count” revealed what Harrison told him about her immediate future.
“I said, ‘Oh, what’s going on? I heard you’re a free agent and you might be coming to the UFC.’ First time I met [her] by the way, nice girl. She said, ‘I don’t know.’ (LAUGHS)… She said, ‘I wanna be the best ever and I recognize that obviously there’s tremendous challenges in the UFC. I wanna, maybe, do another season with PFL, solidify myself there, get better, make some more money and then if I come over to the UFC, I’m ready for the challenge.’ Not that she said she wasn’t ready now.” (h/t Sportskeeda)
Despite believing her path to greatness doesn’t have to go through the UFC, it’s hard to believe we won’t see Harrison on MMA’s biggest stage at some point in the future. However, her options certainly aren’t limited.
The PFL is undoubtedly set to bring in tougher competition for her to face if she remains with them. Meanwhile, a heated clash with Cris Cyborg could await her over in Bellator, a matchup Harrison’s admitted she hopes comes together at some point.
Do you think Kayla Harrison should stay with the PFL for another season?