Kayla Harrison to make MMA debut at PFL 2 following post-Olympics blahs
18 months ago two-time Olympic judo champion Kayla Harrison announced she had signed with Professional Fighters League (PFL) as a brand ambassador, commentator, and perhaps even fighter.
Now, during an appearance on Ariel Helwani’s The MMA Hour, Harrison, 27, says she will make her MMA debut on June 21 at PFL 2 in Chicago. Harrison will fight at featherweight (145 pounds) 27 pounds under her Judo competition weight. Harrison declined to name her opponent, but noted that two previous opponents had pulled out.
Harrison said that after retiring from Judo she was “very depressed” and “laying in bed all day” watching television. Her coaches, Jimmy Pedro Jr. and Jim Pedro Sr. were against Harrison becoming a fighter.
“I was a little bit lost in my life,” she said. “That high is so high that when you come off of that, it’s like your low. You don’t know what to do with yourself.”
“I think at the beginning I was kind of like skittish about it. It’s tough, too, because everyone is always like, well look at Ronda [Rousey], you always have the comparisons. It’s so different from the judo world, but I’m kind of loving it. I’m kind of starting to become my own person in MMA, if that makes sense. In judo, I always had certain expectations. Everyone is sort of like, this is Kayla. This is the golden girl. This is the poster child, and so I always felt like that’s who I had to be. But in MMA, no one really knows me. Nobody cares about judo.”
“I’ve been waiting for a long time to fight. First, it was more me. I just wanted to get my feet wet, get in there, see if I liked getting punched in the face. Now that I’ve established that I do, we’ve sort of been waiting for the PFL to get their stuff together. So, their stuff is together.”
“I don’t care who I fight. It’s tough because I’m 0-0 in MMA. So it’s not like I’m going to fight someone who’s 10-0. But I think it’s difficult when you have two Olympic gold medals behind your name. Like people are kind of like, are you really an amateur?”
“I want to be the best, undisputed. I want everyone to say, oh, who’s the best MMA fighter in the world? Oh, that’s Kayla Harrison.”
Harrison says she hopes to fight three times this year.