As Kayla Harrison’s free agency drags on, there continues to be an abundance of time for imaginations to run rampant about what may be next for the Olympian judoka.
Not long ago, it appeared as though the answer to that question would be a fourth year with the Professional Fighters League and an attempt at winning the women’s lightweight season for the third consecutive time. However, last week it was revealed that those talks hit a snag, and we are right back where we started with nothing but speculation, scuttlebutt, and…sarcasm?
According to Kayla Harrison, when she mentioned potentially joining the UFC’s bantamweight division for a fight against reigning champ Julianna Peña, it was mostly a case of sarcasm gone undetected by ESPN journalist Marc Raimondi.
“I mean, you know, Marc [Raimondi] wrote an article that kinda oversold it a little. [LAUGHS] I was kinda talkin’ shit, like, being goofy. But my goal is obviously not to fight 135 pounds,” Harrison said in a recent interview with MMA Junkie. “Man, you can’t say anything without it—I gotta watch what I say from now on.
“Obviously, I wanna fight the best in the world. Julianna is now considered the top dog, but I also heard that she would fight me at 145 for the right amount of money. So I probably won’t have to fight 135. I just wanna challenge myself and continue to get better. Do I want to fight (at) 135? Fuck no. Like, no, of course not. But I was kinda joking around in there. My sarcasm went over his head.”
A Kayla Harrison Bantamweight Fight Still Possible If…
Sarcasm aside, there is a scenario where Harrison would be more open to fighting at 135 in the distant future against a hypothetical future beast who calls to be slain. Until then, it would take an obscene amount of money to shift her any lower than 145 lbs.
“Yeah, unless I get offered a lot, a lot, a lot, a lot, a lot of money,” Harrison said about featherweight being the only option for a fight against Peña. “Or if there’s like some undefeated, young, hungry absolute killer who’s at 135 and she starts talkin’ a little smack, maybe then I’d have to come down. But other than that, no.”
Harrison currently competes at 155 lbs., but she has competed at 145 before. She has never fought at 135, however, and amidst the trash talk between the two champions, Peña doubted that she ever could. But if Harrison were able to prove her wrong and make the weight, “The Venezuelan Vixen” stated she’d be more than happy to welcome her to bantamweight.
As Harrison alluded to, Peña also said she’d fight Harrison or anyone else for that matter at any weight as long as she is paid the right amount of money. So while Harrison may be walking back her sarcastic words from an earlier interview, she seems keen to hold Peña to hers if the two ever turn trash talk into blockbuster action.
Who do you think would win a fight between Kayla Harrison and Julianna Peña?