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Morning Report: Kayla Harrison considering drop to bantamweight, still undecided about her free agency

Dave Mandel, Invicta FC

The Kayla Harrison sweepstakes may have just taken a dramatic turn.

This past October, Harrison won her second straight lightweight tournament in the PFL, claiming the million dollar prize and also finishing out her contract with the organization. As one of the most marketable female fighters in the world, Harrison immediately became one of the most highly coveted free agents in recent memory. But after Amanda Nunes lost her UFC bantamweight title in a shocking upset to Julianna Peña in December, cratering a potential superfight between the two American Top Team fighters, all signs pointed to Harrison returning to the PFL for another year. Until they didn’t.

Last week, following cryptic Tweets from Harrison, Ariel Helwani reported that talks between Harrison and the PFL had stalled at the goal line. And with Harrison still firmly in the “free agent” category, the two-time Olympic gold medalist is keeping her options open both with regards to her future home and her future weight class.

Speaking with ESPN on Monday, Harrison revealed that she is contemplating a drop to bantamweight, pending discussions with a nutritionist to determine the viability of such a plan.

“I’m considering it,” Harrison said. “I heard that Julianna said she’d move up to 145 if they paid her enough, so that’s good news. That means I don’t have to chop off an arm. ... I want to be the best. Everyone is talking about her....

“Why not? I have to conquer one mountain at a time, though. Whatever mountain comes next.”

It’s clear why Harrison would be interested in cutting to bantamweight if possible, as there are more interesting matchups available there and the UFC has been noncommittal about keeping their featherweight division. Still, a move down to the bantamweight limit of 135 pounds is a big drop for Harrison, who won her two PFL championships at the lightweight limit of 155 pounds, and her two Olympic gold medals at 78 kg, roughly 171 pounds. Harrison did successfully compete once in MMA in the featherweight division, her lone bout outside of the PFL back in 2020, but that still puts her a far way off from bantamweight. Fortunately for Harrison, she has time to make a decision because it appears that she’s also far off from ending her free agency.

“Other things have happened and there’s some last-minute things happening behind closed doors that I’m not entirely sure now what’s going to happen,” Harrison said about her ongoing free agency.

Neither is anyone else at this point. At this point there doesn’t appear to be one perfect organization for Harrison to go to, especially as Harrison’s priorities are more complicated than they may have been just a few years ago. Now a mother of two children, Harrison admits that her legacy is no longer her sole concern, and that ultimately may be what determines her future home.

“Three years ago, I would have said legacy,” Harrison said. “That’s all I give a sh*t about. My advisers, they care about security. Obviously, I have two kids now, so for me, as hard as it is, security comes first. I have to make sure. There’s no guarantees in this life. There’s no certainties. I could snap my neck tomorrow and never fight again. Security is important. But if I can find a way to have security and continue to build my legacy, I think that’s a winner.”

Harrison won gold medals in Judo at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic games. She transitioned to MMA in 2018 where she has since amassed a perfect 12-0 record, with five submissions and five TKOs.


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VIDEO STEW

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LISTEN UP

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FINAL THOUGHTS

This is one of my favorite things I’ve written in some time. If you haven’t read it already, do me a favor and give it a read.

Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow!


EXIT POLL

Poll

Where does Kayla Harrison end up signing?

This poll is closed

  • 34%
    PFL
    (182 votes)
  • 37%
    UFC
    (197 votes)
  • 24%
    Bellator
    (128 votes)
  • 2%
    Other
    (14 votes)
521 votes total Vote Now

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