Thursday, May 19, 2022

Kayla Harrison Open To Bantamweight Move For Peña Fight

Kayla Harrison‘s immediate future in MMA is uncertain at the moment, including what division she’ll be competing in moving forward.

Kayla Harrison has been a rising star in the world of MMA for the last several years. As an accomplished judo Olympian, Harrison was a top prospect when she decided to make the switch to mixed martial arts. The anticipation was met with success when Harrison joined PFL and began winning. She has now won the PFL lightweight championship two years in a row and is perhaps looking to make a big move.

Rumors have been circling that Harrison, although likely to re-sign with PFL, might be headed elsewhere. She has not been shy about wanting to join the UFC, but the timing has been the issue. Harrison has primarily fought at 155 pounds, with one successful bout at featherweight.

The UFC’s highest weight class for females is 145 pounds, but if she takes a roster spot with the UFC, could a bantamweight title shot be an option? Harrison addressed that in an interview with ESPN.

“I’m considering it,” Harrison said a potential move to bantamweight. “I heard that Julianna said she’d move up to 145 if they paid her enough, so that’s good news. That means I don’t have to chop off an arm. … I want to be the best. Everyone is talking about her. Why not? I have to conquer one mountain at a time, though. Whatever mountain comes next.”

Julianna Pena, Kayla Harrison
Julianna Pena, Kayla Harrison

The reality of Harrison being able to make the cut to 135 pounds seems unlikely, but it could be a possibility down the road. If she were to join the UFC her home would be at featherweight. A matchup with Amanda Nunes would be one of the most exciting matchups for her at the weight, but Juliana Peña making a move up would most likely interest fans as well.

After a round of trash talk between Harrison and Peña post-UFC 269, Peña expressed a willingness to fight Harrison if Harrison opted to sign with the UFC and can make the drop down to 135 lbs.

Although the option is there, a deal with the UFC has not been announced. As the winner of the PFL season the last two years, Harrison took home $2 million and would stand to win another million with a three-peat, a heapy prize to leave behind should she sign elsewhere.

“Three years ago, I would have said legacy,” Harrison said. “That’s all I give a s— about. My advisers, they care about security. Obviously, I have two kids now, so for me, as hard as it is, security comes first. I have to make sure. There’s no guarantees in this life. There’s no certainties. I could snap my neck tomorrow and never fight again. Security is important. But if I can find a way to have security and continue to build my legacy, I think that’s a winner.”

Do you think Harrison should stay with PFL or pursue an opportunity with the UFC?

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