Kayla Harrison subsequent battle: Making the case for the Olympic gold medalist to signal with UFC, Bellator or PFL

Kayla Harrison is the largest success story popping out of the 2021 PFL season. She now sits at a little bit of a crossroads as a promotional free agent. Harrison, 31, made the transfer to MMA in 2018 after capturing her second gold medal on the Olympics in judo. With 12 professional wins underneath her belt (solely two of these reaching judges’ scorecards), she’s shortly rounding out her skillset as a real powerhouse at 155 kilos.

Harrison captured her second consecutive PFL Girls’s Light-weight Match title in October, incomes a second $1 million grand prize within the course of. The query now turns into: what’s subsequent? Let’s take a more in-depth have a look at the three potential choices on the desk from the three largest MMA promoters within the U.S.

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Choice 1: Keep cozy in PFL

Professionals: A simple million-dollar payday, no want to chop to 145 kilos.
Cons: A scarcity of competitors that will not construct a legacy.

PFL’s makes an attempt to romance Harrison for one more season is the promotion’s most fascinating storyline. Harrison weighs legacy over cash, however an association most likely exists that will persuade her to remain. PFL not too long ago acquired inaugural Bellator girls’s featherweight champion and Strikeforce veteran Julia Budd (16-3), a invaluable addition to the corporate’s shallow girls’s divisions. A battle towards Budd will surely be probably the most important battle of Harrison’s MMA profession. It is probably not probably the most breathtaking choice on paper, however it serves as an necessary take a look at for Harrison and higher prepares her for a run with UFC or Bellator down the road. It additionally might require the promotion including one other title, like not too long ago launched former UFC title challenger Megan Anderson to make the run extra reliable. Plus, cashing in a 3rd $1 million playoff paycheck by no means hurts.

Choice 2: Head to Cyborg’s area in Bellator

Professionals: A marquee super-fight with Cris Cyborg.
Midway step, weight minimize.

If Harrison and PFL half methods, the following logical step in development can be a transfer to Bellator. Cris Cyborg continues to be among the many greater names within the sport. Cyborg (25-2, 1 NC) has only one loss within the final 15 years and that got here in a wild shootout with UFC two-division champion Amanda Nunes in December 2018. Cyborg vs. Harrison is the largest battle to make for the Judo Olympic gold medalist exterior of a conflict with Nunes. Cyborg presents a brain-rattling energy menace that Harrison has but to face and greater than twice the professional fights. Harrison has traditionally had difficulties making featherweight, however she has mentioned she might do it for the suitable battle. Alternatively, Harrison might have a neater time negotiating a girls’s light-weight or catchweight battle in Bellator than she would in UFC. If Harrison can floor Cyborg en path to a call or end, it should go away little doubt that conquest of Nunes’ kingdom ought to comply with go well with.

Choice 3: Take UFC’s final problem

Professionals: Legacy, superstardom
Cons: A tricky out and difficult weight minimize

Nunes vs. Harrison is the hardcore fan’s battle to make, whether or not UFC president Dana White agrees or not. The checklist of significant, engaging contenders for the two-division UFC champ is fleeting at each girls’s bantamweight and featherweight. A battle towards Harrison is probably the most thrilling matchup for Nunes exterior of a trilogy bout with UFC girls’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko. Harrison all the time ventured into MMA with the intention to carve out a significant legacy. The largest concern with leaping from Taylor Guardado (3-2) to Nunes (21-4) is the absurd bounce in competitors degree. Nunes’ hit-list contains Cyborg, Ronda Rousey, Holly Holm, Miesha Tate, Shevchenko (twice) and Germaine de Randamie. Harrison’s most spectacular win is arguably a pair of dominant selections over Larissa Pacheco. The required weight minimize to 145 might also go away Harrison compromised towards the best feminine MMA fighter in historical past. However, hey, possibly Julianna Pena renders this whole level moot by upsetting Nunes at UFC 269 on Dec. 11.

Harrison is a stellar acquisition for any MMA firm on earth. With brains, brawn and enterprise savvy in addition, Harrison seems well-positioned to money in nevertheless she sees match.

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