As the New Year approaches, one of MMA’s greatest free agents is Kayla Harrison. The world of combat sports continues to wonder where she will sign, with many options on the table.
In October, Harrison won his second PFL Finals title in a dominant fashion, beating Taylor Guardado by submission. Unbeaten at 12-0, the two-time Olympic gold medalist has gone on a sort of world tour, appearing at UFC, Bellator and even AEW events. While professional wrestling might not be an option for her at the moment, there is a lot of intrigue about who will win the bidding war.
It’s time to consider realistic options.
With the PFL sharing their lineup with ESPN / ESPN + and being one of the best MMA promotions in the world, one big prediction is that Harrison could join the UFC.
UFC President Dana White spoke with TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter and said he and Harrison’s team were having conversations. The UFC even showed Harrison on the big screen at UFC 269, something reserved for fighters in his class, or celebrities. White has previously discussed that Harrison needs to prove himself, and now he believes the only fight that can do that is against Amanda Nunes.
Being a teammate with Nunes, Harrison would love to face the former two-time champion.
“Fighting Amanda was something I wanted… it’s such a weird thing,” Harrison said on “The MMA Hour,” via MMA Fighting. “Like, I don’t want to fight her, but I want to fight her. I’m in a position where I want to be the best – she’s the best. It’s not personal, it’s just business. But I also love Amanda, and I think she’s a great person, I think she’s a great mom, a great person, a great champion. I only have good things to say about her, so does it feel like I’m going to come out and say, ‘I want to fight Amanda?’ “
Nunes lost the UFC bantamweight title to Julianna Pena at UFC 269. The loss shocked Harrison, and it may have derailed those plans. “The Lioness” holds the UFC featherweight title, however. In a sterile division when it comes to talent, Harrison can be the one to step up and bring that division to life.
MORE: Julianna Pena upsets Amanda Nunes, captures women’s bantamweight belt in UFC 269 main co-event
Scott Coker has made it known that Bellator is in talks with Harrison. Bellator has gathered young talent over the years and turned them into local stars. The promotion would like to add Harrison to the mix.
Harrison was very confident in his abilities early in his career. Coker believes joining Bellator or the UFC would be the perfect fit to build that confidence.
“We had a really good conversation with her – she’s a lovely girl,” Coker told MMA Junkie. “She’s one hell of a fighter and I really think in order for her to take her career to the next level she has to come fight Cyborg or go to the UFC and fight Amanda Nunes or (Julianna) Peña. I think that has to be the next step.
Cyborg, the Bellator featherweight champion, is on a five-game winning streak. She defended the title three times. Harrison has already called Cyborg a trailblazer and said she would love to come for herself and the title. It’s unclear when a clash could happen if Harrison signed, especially when comparing the differences between the two.
Still, there is a lot of fighting going on for Harrison, even if she has to move divisions. Competing in the featherweight division once, at Invicta FC 43, Harrison can grow up fighting athletes such as Leslie Smith, Leah McCourt, Talita Nogueira and Pam Sorenson.
A dream scenario for the Professional Fighters League is that they keep Harrison, the goose that lays the golden eggs of the promotion. With the PFL, Harrison grew as a fighter and earned $ 2 million with the promotion. There’s still a chance she’ll sign with the PFL, even for a year longer. It comes after the PFL signed former Bellator champion Julia Budd, boxing champion Claressa Shields and other fighters around the world.
Still considered a newbie to MMA, Harrison can continue to grow with the promotion, potentially earning an additional $ 1 million, and then testing the waters of free agency.
That’s what Anderson Franca, his trainer, thinks. Even after saying Harrison could mix it up with Cyborg, a return to the PFL might be the right way to go.
“Kayla is an Olympic athlete, she takes great challenges and is ready too,” Franca told MMA Fighting. “If the fight is done [and we say], ‘Kayla, you will fight Cris Cyborg tomorrow,’ she will fight her. Myself as a coach I think she could stay another year at the PFL and take it step by step, but I don’t know how the financial part is, if she will re-sign with the PFL or sign with another organization. I haven’t spoken to him yet.
Another option could be ONE Championship, but there haven’t been any major reports regarding interest in Harrison. His manager, Ali Abdelaziz, studied all offers, including that of WWE.
Bettors have Harrison as an underdog when it comes to potential fights against Cyborg and Nunes. Harrison will need to consider every aspect of every deal that comes to him, whether it’s financial or combat.
Where do you think Harrison will end up?