Free agency looms for Kayla Harrison ahead of PFL Finals

MMA, PFL

Tomorrow night in the main event of PFL‘s tenth event of the 2021 season, we will see the finals for the women’s lightweight division. The massive favorite, Kayla Harrison (11-0), will look to remain perfect and pick up her third straight PFL championship.

Standing in her way is Taylor Guardado (3-1) who will be looking to pick up the massive upset. Guardado lost her professional debut last year, but a perfect PFL season at 3-0 has earned her a spot in the finals against the Olympic Gold Medalist and two-time PFL champion.

While Guardado is a good opponent, there’s more focus on what comes after the fight for Kayla Harrison. No disrespect to Guardado, but I can’t see any scenario where Harrison walks out of the cage tomorrow night without capturing her third PFL championship.

That is the general consensus in the MMA community which is why the focus of this week is about what comes next. Once the PFL finals are over tomorrow night, Kayla Harrison is officially a free agent and she’s the best female free agent MMA has ever seen.

Will Harrison stay with PFL?

Harrison has competed at 155 pounds for the entirety of her career with PFL. However, last year, she cut down to 145 pounds to show the world that she’s very capable of making the featherweight limit which opens the doors for a couple of superfights.

PFL is obviously wanting to retain her and they’re trying to make the promotion even more attractive from a competition standpoint. They recently signed Julia Budd (15-3) and Budd will be making her debut tomorrow night for the promotion. Budd was a longstanding champion in Bellator.

Speaking of Bellator, they will be calling Harrison with the dream of Harrison fighting one of the greatest of all time in Cris Cyborg (24-2). Harrison has always wanted to fight Cyborg and was frustrated when PFL didn’t sign her following her release from the UFC.

And speaking of the UFC, that is where the biggest fight of all is. The fight I’m referring to would pair Harrison against her teammate and the greatest female fighter of all time, Amanda Nunes (21-4). Nunes is the two-division UFC champion who is widely considered to be the best ever.

Harrison wants the world to view her as the greatest of all time. She told the media this week that she’s going to be following some comments from UFC president Dana White who advised her to stay with PFL and continue beating up on less competition.

Harrison took the comments in stride as she knows the game. The PFL champion knows the game and she knows how to play it. Where she ends up signing will be one of the biggest MMA storylines between tomorrow night and the end of 2021.

What’s next for Valentina Shevchenko after UFC 266?

This past Saturday in the co-main event of UFC 266, Valentina Shevchenko (22-3) defended her flyweight title against Lauren Murphy (15-5). Murphy was not intimidated and really believed she could give the champion troubles on Saturday night.

However, Shevchenko maintained that this defense would be like all of the rest. She said that she would win no matter what at UFC 266 and walk out of the arena with the flyweight title.

Well, she was right again. UFC 266 was another one-sided fight from Valentina Shevchenko. Shevchenko never allowed Murphy to get off any offense throughout the evening. I think you could count on both hands how many strikes Murphy landed in the fight.

Shevchenko’s speed and strength was just too much for the challenger. In the fourth round, Shevchenko really started to pour it on and hurt Murphy badly. The champion unleashed vicious combinations that ultimately wilted the challenger. Shevchenko got her hand raised and retained her title by fourth round TKO.

What’s next after UFC 266?

There is nobody in the UFC’s flyweight division that can compete with Valentina Shevchenko. It’s very clear that nobody even has a prayer against her out of the options for her.

Amanda Nunes (21-4), rightfully so, is considered to be the greatest of all time. However, she’s been pushed in fights. We’ve seen Germaine De Randamie have success against Nunes.

But the biggest challenge Nunes has ever faced is Shevchenko. These two have fought twice before the UFC started the flyweight division. Shevchenko is smaller, but that didn’t really matter in their fight.

The first fight, it was clear that Nunes won. However, the second fight generated a lot of controversy. Nunes edged Shevchenko by split decision at UFC 215, but the world has been split on that fight. 20 media members scored the fight and they were perfectly split 10-10.

Personally, I scored the fight for Shevchenko. While it’s not popular to say, I think Shevchenko is the best overall female fighter in the UFC and I believe it’s time to set up the third fight between these two.

Now, Nunes has to win her fight in December against Julianna Pena. However, let’s be real, she’s not losing to Julianna Pena. After she wins, it’s time to book the trilogy. This is the fight every one wants and it’s the fight that should happen to truly determine who’s the best in the world.

UFC rebooks Amanda Nunes – Julianna Pena

The UFC has rebooked a massive title fight in the women’s bantamweight division. The promotion announced today that Amanda Nunes (21-4) will return to defend her bantamweight crown against Julianna Pena (10-4) in December.

The fight will take place at UFC 269 on December 11th. Originally, these two were supposed to fight earlier this month in the UFC 265 co-main event. However, after Nunes tested positive for Covid, the fight was called off. 

Pena was vocal about wanting an interim UFC title shot if Nunes wasn’t going to be able to fight anytime soon. However, the promotion was able to get this fight back on the books relatively quickly.

Back at UFC 257, Pena defeated Sara McMann by third round fear-naked choke. After the fight was over, she started calling for this fight with Amanda Nunes.

Pena stated that the UFC‘s two-division champion had been ducking her for years. The callouts were odd to me considering where Pena was in the division. The Venezuelan Vixen is just 2-2 in her last four and was put to sleep against Germaine de Randamie last October.

Nevertheless, the trash talk seemed to work and the UFC decided to give Pena the fight. If the current rankings hold, Julianna Pena will enter the cage in August as the fifth ranked bantamweight.

UFC 269 Grudge Match

Amanda Nunes is the greatest of all time and let’s be clear, Julianna Pena really doesn’t deserve this shot at UFC 269. Her resume doesn’t exactly make her the number one contender. Especially considering the top contender just put her to sleep in 2020.

However, Pena called out the champion and that’s what she’s getting. Nunes has defeated the best the UFC has to offer at both 135 and 145 pounds. Pena is one of the few bantamweights that Nunes hasn’t had the privilege of fighting yet.

Perhaps that had a lot to do with this booking as well. Either way, it should be a fun build back up to UFC 269. The last time we saw Nunes was when she demolished Megan Anderson at UFC 259.

The win was Nunes’ second straight defense of her featherweight title. Now, Nunes will return to the division that made her a champion for the first time.

BREAKING: Amanda Nunes tests positive for COVID-19; Out of UFC 265

UFC 265 has taken a hit today by losing the co-main event of the evening. ESPN reported today that the promotion’s two-division champion and the greatest female fighter of all time, Amanda Nunes (21-4), has tested positive for COVID-19.

Nunes was set to make her return to the bantamweight division to defend her UFC title against Julianna Pena (10-4). These two have some serious bad blood and many were looking forward to the fight.

However, the fight is going to be delayed. The UFC‘s chief business officer Hunter Campbell told ESPN that the plan is for the promotion to rebook the fight once Nunes is healthy and ready to go.

At this time there is no word on how Nunes is said to be doing after testing positive. However, given the language from Campbell, my guess is that she’s experiencing symptoms from COVID.

For now, it would appear that the new co-main event of UFC 265 will be the bantamweight contest between Jose Aldo and Pedro Munhoz.

Plans for the UFC title fight

As Campbell said, the UFC is fully planning on rebooking this fight when Nunes is ready to go. However, we really don’t have any idea of when that will be. We’ve seen some fighters be ready just two weeks after a positive test.

However, we’ve also seen some fighters experience symptoms that kept them out for extended periods of time. Khamzat Chimaev and Alexander Volkanovski are two that stick out.

Volkanovski was set to defend his UFC title against Brian Ortega in March, but after a positive COVID test, that fight was scrapped. Those two will now fight in September. In reality, September might be the target date for the Nunes – Pena title fight.

Another possibility could be November. At the beginning of November, the UFC is returning to New York for UFC 268 which is headlined by Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington. Don’t be surprised if you see this bantamweight title end up at MSG.

Houston the front-runner to host UFC 265 per Dana White

It looks like the UFC will be heading back to Texas in August. At least, that’s how it’s looking right now. This week, Dana White sat down with Yahoo Sports’ Kevin Iole and they talked about all the happenings with the promotion.

Of course, one of the topics that came up was the UFC heavyweight division. Currently, the promotion is trying to finalize the first title defense for the new heavyweight champion, Francis Ngannou (16-3).

Ngannou knocked out Stipe Miocic (20-4) at UFC 260 to capture the heavyweight title. Prior to that night, it was understood that the winner would fight Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC) is a super-fight over the summer.

However, financial negotiations never got off to a hot start between Jones and the UFC. Now, it doesn’t appear that Jones is going to be fighting anytime soon. With that, the promotion moved to the top contender, Derrick Lewis (25-7, 1 NC).

Lewis is one of the more popular fighters in the UFC and he holds a decision win over the current champion. He’s won four fights in a row and he definitely deserves the next crack at the heavyweight title. Because Lewis is next, the promotion is honing in on Houston, Texas hosting UFC 265.

UFC 265 – Home Field Advantage

Now, the UFC hasn’t finalized the rematch between Ngannou and Lewis. However, the word is that the fight is getting pretty close to the goal line. The promotion is planning on the heavyweight title fight headlining UFC 265.

Currently, Amanda Nunes (21-4) – Julianna Pena (10-4) is the lone title fight on the August PPV. However, it appears that the promotion is going to have the heavyweight title on the line in the main event.

Derrick Lewis is a native of Houston and he got a massive pop when shown on screen at UFC 262 earlier this month. It looks like Lewis is going to get a little home field advantage for his second crack at UFC gold.

Of course, this situation is still fluid at the moment. For one, the promotion hasn’t finalized the fight and two, UFC 265 hasn’t been announced for Houston. However, the promotion is looking to lock up the location soon and my guess is the fight will be finalized just before.

PFL’s Kayla Harrison has her eyes set on GOAT status in the final year of her contract

MMA, PFL

Make no mistake about it, the best female fighter in PFL is Kayla Harrison (9-0). The two-time Olympic Gold Medalist in Judo is an extremely special talent and she’s completely destroyed every opponent that’s been put in front of her.

In her nine professional wins, only two of them have gone the distance. Both of those fights were against arguably the second best PFL female fighter Larissa Pacheco (14-4). Pacheco and Harrison are likely going to meet again during this PFL season.

Harrison made a statement after her last performance and she said after the fight that she’s the baddest woman in any room. She wants the world to see her as the greatest of all time once she’s done competing.

Harrison’s contract with PFL is set to expire after this season. PFL is already having a dream scenario where Harrison ultimately fights Claressa Shields, but that probably will not play itself out.

Assuming Harrison runs through the other PFL lightweights this season and captures another title, she’s going to be the hottest free agent on the market. Harrison will have the UFC and Bellator knocking at her door to take her away.

PFL, Bellator, or the UFC?

The Olympian has been vocal that she does actually believe in the PFL format with seasons and rankings. However, she does recognize that there are big fights out there outside of PFL that could cement her legacy.

Of course, the biggest show in town is the UFC which is the home of the greatest of all time in Amanda Nunes (21-4). Nunes is the UFC’s two-division champion and she’s actually a teammate of Harrison’s at American Top Team.

Dana White recently commented about the PFL champion saying, “I don’t know if she’s ready. I just don’t know if her people think she’s ready. It’s a whole other level when you get here (the UFC).”

The PFL champion fired back on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show stating, “I think that if Dana is ready to pay me a lot of money, I’ll make him a lot of money. I’m ready to face the best in the world.”

Harrison is likely going to win her third PFL championship this year. After the year is over, The Pro Fight League, Bellator, and the UFC will all be calling. My guess is that she ultimately winds up in the UFC especially considering her ability to make 145 pounds. This will definitely be a story to follow at the end of the year.

After dominant win at UFC 261, what’s next for Valentina Shevchenko?

This past Saturday at UFC 261 we got to see a flyweight title fight that the world was intrigued by. The undisputed flyweight queen Valentina Shevchenko (21-3) defended her title against former strawweight champion Jessica Andrade (21-9).

Heading into the fight, the UFC and Dana White really hyped up the former strawweight champion to build interest. The thought was that the power and pure strength of Andrade could give Valentina Shevchenko problems she has yet to deal with.

However, let’s not forget that Shevchenko has fought 40 minutes with Amanda Nunes (21-4). Nevertheless, the UFC was building up Andrade was a truly formattable challenger for the title.

Well, on Saturday night, Valentina Shevchenko made a massive statement to everyone. Dana White said that Shevchenko fought like a demon at UFC 261 who was pissed off at everyone.

Shevchenko did what everyone said Andrade needed to do at UFC 261. She engaged Andrade in the clinch and in close quarters. However, Andrade couldn’t do anything and Shevchenko showed just how strong she is.

Shevchenko ragdolled the former UFC strawweight champion on Saturday night. There wasn’t one aspect of the fight that she didn’t dominate. In the second round, she secured the crucifix position off of a powerful takedown and got the TKO win.

What’s next after UFC 261?

At UFC 261, Valentina Shevchenko once again proved that there are levels to this game and nobody is even close to hers at 125 pounds. She’s so far ahead of the rest of these ladies it’s not even funny.

The thing that makes her so special is how well-rounded she is as a martial artist. She has elite striking, elite grappling and she’s stronger than most of the bantamweights on the roster.

The only person on the entire UFC roster that can compete with Shevchenko is Amanda Nunes. This is not an exaggeration or being a victim of the moment, but I truly believe that Shevchenko is the second greatest female mixed martial artist we’ve ever seen.

She is inches behind Nunes and if you have a hard time believing that, watch their second fight from UFC 215. Personally, I scored that fight for Shevchenko and if she would’ve won that split decision, she would be called the greatest.

In my perfect world, I would love to see the trilogy between these two ladies, but Dana White has dismissed that. In terms of the next contender at flyweight, there are a couple of upcoming UFC matchups to watch.

A few weeks from now, Katlyn Chookagian (15-4) takes on Viviane Araujo (10-2) at UFC 262. Then, in June, Lauren Murphy (14-4) takes on JoJo Calderwood (15-5). One of these four ladies will get the next crack at the champion. My only advice to whoever gets that shot is good luck because you’re going to need it.

BREAKING: UFC books Amanda Nunes – Julianna Pena

Amanda Nunes (21-4) is officially set for her first UFC bantamweight title defense since December 2019. Dana White told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto today that The Lioness is returning to bantamweight in August to defend her title against Julianna Pena (10-4).

You can imagine that this matchup at UFC 265 is going to have a ton of heat behind it. Back at UFC 257, Pena defeated Sara McMann by third round fear-naked choke. After the fight was over, she started calling for a fight with Nunes.

Pena stated that the UFC‘s two-division champion had been ducking her for years. The callouts were odd to me considering where Pena was in the division. The Venezuelan Vixen is just 2-2 in her last four and was put to sleep against Germaine de Randamie last October.

Nevertheless, the trash talk seemed to work and the UFC decided to give Pena the fight. If the current rankings hold, Julianna Pena will enter the cage in August as the sixth ranked bantamweight.

UFC 265 Grudge Match

Amanda Nunes is the greatest of all time and let’s be clear, Julianna Pena really doesn’t deserve this shot at UFC 265. Her resume doesn’t exactly make her the number one contender. Especially considering the top contender just put her to sleep six months ago.

However, Pena called out the champion and that’s what she’s getting. Nunes has defeated the best the UFC has to offer at both 135 and 145 pounds. Pena is one of the few bantamweights that Nunes hasn’t had the privilege of fighting yet.

Perhaps that had a lot to do with this booking as well. Either way, it should be a fun buildup to UFC 265. The last time we saw Nunes was last month when she demolished Megan Anderson at UFC 259.

The win was Nunes’ second straight defense of her featherweight title. Now, Nunes will return to the division that made her a champion for the first time. This should be a fun matchup when August rolls around.

UFC: Miesha Tate wants to be active upon her return; Eyeing a rematch with Amanda Nunes

One week ago today we learned that Miesha Tate (18-7) was returning to the UFC. The former bantamweight champion retired back in 2016 after she had lost her second consecutive fight.

That fight was to Raquel Pennington and prior to that, she lost at UFC 200 to Amanda Nunes. Tate had just turned 30 years old when she retired and having only lost two fights in a row, many were perplexed by her decision to retire.

However, Tate told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani this week that she was just ready to get away from being Miesha Tate the fighter. In her time away from the octagon, she became a VP with One Championship.

However, as a fighter, Tate was still under contract with the UFC. Tate told Helwani that she really started to get the itch to fight last year. She had a baby last June and then reached out to Dana White in September.

After meeting with White, Tate’s UFC return was inevitable. However, at first, Tate was going to compete at featherweight. The former bantamweight champion wanted to compete where she didn’t have to cut weight.

Returning to the UFC’s bantamweight division

Of course, it’s known how shallow the talent pool is at featherweight in the UFC. In fact, there was rumors going around that the division was being shut down after Nunes defeated Megan Anderson earlier this month.

As of now, featherweight is still a division, but it won’t be the division Tate competes in. After thinking about it, Tate wanted to compete at bantamweight because she’s wanting to be an active fighter upon her return.

Ultimately, the goal for Tate is to get a rematch with the UFC’s two-division champion, Amanda Nunes. Tate told Helwani that she believes she could get another crack at Nunes with a couple of quality wins.

Given her name recognition, I believe that’s about right in terms of her timeline. Tate takes on Marion Reneau (9-7-1) on July 17th. This is the perfect opponent for her in her UFC return.

Reneau is not the best fighter, but she’s dangerous. This is a good way for Tate to get back into the swing of things before she starts taking on some of the best at 135 pounds. Maybe another showdown with Holly Holm could occur later in 2021.

UFC: Is Julianna Pena justifiably confident or extremely delusional?

Last weekend at UFC 259, Amanda Nunes (21-4) successfully defended her featherweight title. The greatest fighter in women’s MMA history furthered her legacy by demolishing Megan Anderson in the first round.

After her latest title defense, Nunes is planning on dropping back down to bantamweight to defend her other UFC title. Waiting for her at 135 pounds is Julianna Pena (10-4). Pena has been extremely vocal about wanting a shot at Nunes.

After Pena’s win over Sara McMann, she got on the microphone and called out Amanda Nunes. She said that the UFC‘s two-division champion had been dodging her for years and it was time for the two of them to meet inside the octagon.

These comments seemed to amuse Nunes and most of the MMA community. After Nunes won on Saturday night, we learned that Holly Holm was out of her upcoming fight against Julianna Pena. That fight was being looked at as a potential title eliminator.

After that news dropped, Julianna Pena took to social media to continue her callouts of the UFC champion. Pena also appeared on Ariel Helwani’s MMA show where she continued to callout Nunes and made some rather interesting remarks.

Will the UFC book the grudge match?

Pena told Ariel Helwani, “She knows stylistically I’m the worst matchup for her. Let’s go back to the Cat Zingano fight. She lost, she curled up the fetal position and the referee had to pull Cat off of her. I beat Cat. I’m the best wrestler in the division. She knows she’s gonna curl up in the fetal position (again).”

Strong words from Pena towards the UFC’s two-division champion. However, is her words just showing confidence or straight up delusion? To me, everything she said in this interview with Ariel Helwani came across as Chael Sonnen level delusional.

The fight she’s referencing was seven years ago before Nunes had a strength and conditioning program. Nunes hasn’t remotely gassed in a fight anytime in the last few years. In fact, she just beat Felicia Spencer for five consecutive rounds without breaking a sweat. There is no questioning the cardio of Amanda Nunes now.

I’ll give Pena credit for putting herself out there, but some of the things she says just make no sense at all. However, at the end of the day, this talk is likely going to get her a crack at the UFC title.

After UFC 259, Dana White hinted that Pena might be next for Nunes at 135 pounds. Despite being ranked sixth and having just lost to the top contender a few months ago, Pena’s ability to sell the fight might win out here.

I respect Julianna Pena for calling for this fight and wanting this fight. Not many people do, however, my advice to her would just be to be careful what you wish for. Personally, I hope this fight gets made because the women’s divisions could use some of this heat.