Last week, Dana White announced some major news as he announced that Kayla Harrison (16-1) had signed with the UFC. He not only announced that the promotion had signed her, but he announced that she would be taking on former bantamweight champion Holly Holm (15-6) on the historic UFC 300 card.
Now, if I would have told you that Kayla Harrison had signed with the promotion a year ago, you’d think she’d be fighting at featherweight. However, the promotion has done away with the featherweight division thus there’s only one place for Harrison to go. A place she’s never been professionally and that’s the bantamweight division.
Harrison became a two-time PFL champion in the lightweight division (155 pounds). She fought once in Invicta at featherweight (145 pounds), however, she’s never gone lower than that. She joked at one point during her career that making 135 would require her to cut both of her legs off.
That being said, Harrison has had a dream. She’s always dreamed of being a UFC champion and competing on the biggest stage in MMA. The two-time Olympic Gold Medalist became a free agent after she competed at the PFL World Championships last November against Aspen Ladd. A fight in which Harrison dominated and won by decision.
Knowing she was a free agent and knowing that she’d have to make 135 to be in the UFC, Harrison fully prepared herself and tested everything out before committing to the promotion.
Harrison is ready for the UFC
Harrison detailed everything to Kevin Ioli in an interview he published on his website KevinIoli.com earlier today. Harrison talked about the test cut to 135 and she even said that she had a mock fight week to ensure she’d be able to compete. This involved cutting to 135, fully recovering, and then going through a full fight simulation.
“I wouldn’t have made the move if I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it,” Harrison said. “We did a test cut. Everything was measured, from my heart rate to my blood pressure to my blood sugar. We did a test recovery. We did a test simulated fight. Everything has been dialed in and everything has been tested.
The former PFL champion also talked about the fact that while she was competing in the PFL, she was not as big as some of the fighters she competed against. She pointed to this as a competitive advantage she believes she’ll know have in the UFC.
“The whole time I was [in the PFL], I walked around at 165, maybe 160 and so not only was I usually the smaller fighter with less experience, I was getting in the cage with girls who were getting in there at 180, 175 pounds. Now, that’s not going to be the case.”
Harrison is the big betting favorite ahead of her debut at UFC 300. In this fight, you’re looking at a title eliminator at 135 pounds. The promotion’s plan as of now is to have Raquel Pennington defend her title over the summer against former champion Julianna Pena. Whoever wins this fight in April will be tentatively penciled in to face the winner of the summer title fight.
The promotion has a lot of love for Holly Holm, but internally, you have to figure they are pulling for Harrison to get the job done. If Harrison proves the oddsmakers right and wins in April, expect the former Olympian to be cageside for the title fight over the summer and I’d expect a pretty fun face-off inside the octagon afterwards.