Last weekend at UFC 269, we saw one of the biggest upsets in MMA history. Julianna Pena (11-4) shocked the world when she dethroned Amanda Nunes (21-5) and became the bantamweight champion of the world.
However, it wasn’t just the fact that Pena beat Nunes, it was the way she beat her. Pena stood toe-to-toe with Nunes in the pocket and backed the champion down. Nunes was forced to clinch and Pena threw her to the ground.
Once there, Pena was able to get her back and submit her. The result sent shock waves throughout the UFC audience. One member of the audience who was especially upset was the hottest free agent on the MMA scene, Kayla Harrison (12-0).
The two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and PFL champion was there to watch her teammate Amanda Nunes. However, Harrison is also being courted by the UFC and was given the free agent camera treatment.
The promotion has expressed interest in booking Harrison against Nunes at 145 pounds. Dana White said after UFC 269 that a bout between Nunes and Harrison would be one of the biggest fights in women’s MMA history.
However, that’s been put on ice for the moment due to Nunes’ shocking loss. Pena was asked about Harrison this week and she labeled the PFL champion the lesser of the two referring to her and Nunes.
Harrison didn’t take kindly to those comments and she made that clear on Ariel Helwani’s MMA hour. She made it clear that if she signs with the UFC, Pena needs to watch where she steps.
Will Harrison sign with the UFC?
Harrison made it clear that Pena needs to watch what she says because she’s not one to just talk about things. She also said that she could beat Julianna Pena with one arm taken away.
Should Harrison sign with the UFC, she would be fighting at 145 pounds. Pena has never expressed interest in moving up, in fact, she’s talked about even trying to make 125 pounds to fight Valentina Shevchenko.
However, her talk of Harrison this week makes me wonder if she’d ever think of competing up in weight. If she did, Kayla Harrison would be glad to take that fight. Currently, Harrison is trying to decide where she wants to sign.
The UFC, Bellator, and PFL are all making plays to sign Harrison. She told Helwani yesterday that PFL is making the biggest financial offer which should come as no surprise. PFL has made her a start and they can’t afford to lose her.
However, she also knows that the UFC and Bellator contain a higher level of competition. She said she’s currently weighing her options factoring in compensation as well as her legacy.
When this free agency began, I thought she might end up in Bellator or resigning with PFL. However, I’m really starting to think she’s leaning towards the UFC and ultimately, I think she ends up in the octagon.
With that being said, Julianna Pena might have to see Harrison at some point.