While Rousey has left the sport after holding gold on its biggest stage and pioneering the rise of female MMA into the mainstream, Harrison is currently forging her own legacy inside the cage.
After transitioning to MMA following two gold medal triumphs at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, Harrison made a splash in the rising PFL promotion. Now approaching her fourth year in the sport, the 31-year-old sits as the most sought-after free agent in the game after back-to-back championships in 2019 and 2021.
But while Harrison continues to pummel her competition and perhaps gets set for a move to the UFC or Bellator, she’s creating her success in the sport without former friend Rousey by her side.
During a recent interview with ESPN MMA’s Marc Raimondi, Harrison discussed her current relationship with Rousey, whom she was roommates and good friends with when the pair were part of the US judo team together over a decade ago, long before “Rowdy” gained celebrity status.
After admitting that they aren’t friends anymore, Harrison suggested the turn of events is saddening, especially given how Rousey helped her during the Ohio native’s teen years.
“No, I think we kinda are like, I don’t think we’re friends anymore. I don’t know. We’re estranged, that’s the perfect word,” Harrison said. “We were roommates, you know. We traveled the world together at one point. She was buying me groceries cause I was a poor 16-year-old with like, five bucks in my account. So, at one point I really looked up to her and we were close. So, it is sad.”
Harrison Comments On Rousey’s WWE Return
Since her invincibility inside the Octagon was crushed by a Holly Holm head kick in 2015 and an Amanda Nunes onslaught in 2016, Rousey has pursued ventures outside of MMA. That’s included a transition to the art of professional wrestling.
She made her first WWE appearance early in 2018 before debuting at the company’s showcase event, WrestleMania, later in the year. After winning the Raw Women’s Championship and holding it for 231 days, the 35-year-old’s contract expired.
After taking time away, a period that included the birth of her first child, Rousey returned to the ring last month.
During her interaction with ESPN, Harrison reacted to her former roommate’s return to her “fake thing.” She also shut the door on a potential reunion with “Rowdy” on the pro wrestling circuit.
“I heard she’s back to, ‘Be nice Kayla…’ She’s back to doing her thing, her fake thing [LAUGHS]… Can you imagine if I joined her (in WWE)? … We’d beat the men. Like, legit. It’s never gonna happen,” Harrison stated.
While Rousey begins another stint with WWE, Harrison will be hoping to confirm her immediate future and next destination soon as she gears up for a targeted spring return to the cage.
It initially appeared another season with the PFL was leading the charge. But an apparent breakdown in negotiations has left the door wide open. Having met with UFC officials in previous months, perhaps we’ll see Harrison pursue similar success to Rousey on MMA’s biggest stage soon enough.
Do you think Kayla Harrison can surpass Ronda Rousey’s achievements and legacy in the sport of MMA?