Two-time Olympic gold medalist Kayla Harrison will soon become one of the most coveted free agents in all of combat sports after she completes her contract with PFL on Oct. 27.
While she still has to go through Taylor Guardado in order to become a two-time PFL champion, Harrison is heavily favored to remain undefeated. Then she will begin fielding offers to determine where she will ultimately compete next.
Of course, with a chance to win $1 million at the end of every season, Harrison could easily opt to return to PFL for another year, but there will certainly be interest in her from other promotions — most notably the UFC and Bellator.
“My understanding was this was her last year under contract with PFL and after her fight, they’ll figure out what she’s doing,” American Top Team owner Dan Lambert said about Harrison’s situation on The MMA Hour.
“Whether it’s a return there, whether it’s going over to Bellator to fight [Cris] Cyborg and beat her up, or maybe it’s try to throw her hat in the UFC ring. Who knows. I guess highest bidder wins.”
Lambert doesn’t manage Harrison — that duty lies with Dominance MMA founder Ali Abdelaziz. But obviously, he spends a lot of time with her while she’s doing her training camps at the Coconut Creek, Fla., facility.
While he really just wants whatever is best for Harrison for her future, Lambert also knows that one of those career paths could eventually lead to a showdown between two of the gym’s top fighters.
If Harrison signs with the UFC and begins competing in the featherweight division, she would almost assuredly end up on a collision course with reigning two-division champion Amanda Nunes, with whom she trains at American Top Team.
In fact, Harrison and Nunes actually started working together after already sharing the same head coach in former WEC champion Mike Brown.
Lambert has seen these situations play out previously with American Top Team fighters, including Tyron Woodley facing off with Robbie Lawler when they clashed with the UFC welterweight title on the line.
Ideally, Lambert would never see two of his fighters face each other, but he also understands these situations are going to come up when a gym houses so many top athletes.
“I’d do everything I could to avoid it,” Lambert said about Nunes vs. Harrison. “I don’t like when our people fight. Usually when you go into a fight you’ve got at least a 50-50 of leaving happy or sad. Put two of our people against each other, especially in such a high stakes fight, you’ve got a 100 percent chance of leaving feeling pretty bad for somebody.
“But hey, sometimes sh*t happens. If it were to happen, we’d separate the training, pick out training partners and coaches that would help each and may the best man or woman win.”
It remains to be seen where Harrison will end up. But first things first as she attempts to secure another $1 million prize at the PFL finals card scheduled on Oct. 27. Meanwhile, Nunes is preparing for a bantamweight title defense when she faces Julianna Pena in the co-main event at UFC 269 in December.