As the new year begins, one of the greatest free agents in MMA is Kayla Harrison. The combat sports world continues to wonder where she will sign, with many options on the table.
In October, Harrison won his second PFL Finals title in dominant fashion, beating Taylor Guarded by submission. Undefeated at 12-0, the two-time Olympic gold medalist has gone on something like a world tour, appearing at UFC, Bellator and even AEW events. While professional wrestling may not be an option for her as of now, there is a lot of intrigue as to who will win the bidding war.
Time to look at the realistic options.
With the PFL sharing its programming with ESPN / ESPN + and being one of the top MMA promotions in the world, a big prediction is that Harrison could join the UFC.
UFC President Dana White spoke with TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter and said that he and Harrison’s team are having talks. The UFC even showed Harrison on the big screen at UFC 269, something reserved for fighters in his class or celebrities. White previously argued that Harrison needs to prove herself, and now believes the only fight she can do that is against Amanda Nunes.
Being teammates with Nunes, Harrison would love to face the former two-time champion.
“Fighting Amanda, it was something she 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 am in a position where I want to be the best, she is the best. It’s not personal, it’s just business. But I also love Amanda, and I think she is a great person, I think she is a great mother, a great person, a great champion. I have nothing but good things to say about her, so am I going to step out of her and say, ‘I want to fight Amanda?’
Nunes lost the UFC bantamweight title to Julianna Pena at UFC 269. That loss shocked Harrison, and he may have derailed those plans. However, “The Lioness” holds the UFC featherweight title. In a sterile division when it comes to talent, Harrison may be the one to step up and bring some life to that division.
MORE: Julianna Pena Annoys Amanda Nunes, She Captures Women’s Bantamweight Belt At UFC 269 Co-Main Event
Scott Coker has made it known that Bellator has been in talks with Harrison. Bellator has rounded up young talents over the years and turned them into local stars. The promo would love to add Harrison to the mix.
Harrison is very confident in his abilities early in his career. Coker believes that joining Bellator or the UFC would be the perfect option to improve that confidence.
“We had a really good conversation with her, she’s a sweet girl,” Coker told MMA Junkie. “She is a great fighter and I think that really 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 should be the next step ”.
Cyborg, the Bellator featherweight champion, is on a five-game win streak. He has defended the title three times. Harrison has called Cyborg a trailblazer before and said he’d love to come get her and title her. It is unknown when a showdown could occur if Harrison signed, especially when the differences between the two are compared.
Still, there are plenty of fights for Harrison, even if she must change divisions. Competing in the featherweight division once, at Invicta FC 43, Harrison can grow up battling athletes like Leslie Smith, Leah McCourt, Talita Nogueira, and Pam Sorenson.
A dream scenario for the Professional Fighters League is that he stays with Harrison, the goose that lays the golden eggs of the promotion. With the PFL, Harrison has grown as a fighter and has made $ 2 million from the promotion. There is still the possibility that she will sign with the PFL, even if it is for one more year. This comes after the PFL signed former Bellator champion Julia Budd, boxing champion Claressa Shields and other female fighters from around the world.
Still considered a rookie to MMA, Harrison can continue to grow with promotion, potentially making another million dollars and then testing the waters of free agency.
That’s what Anderson Franca, his coach, thinks should happen. Even after saying that Harrison can mix him up with Cyborg, a return to the PFL might be the right thing to do.
“Kayla is an Olympian, she takes big challenges and she 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. As a coach, I think she could stay one more year in the PFL and go 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 talked to her about it yet. ”
Another option could be ONE Championship, but there have been no major reports in regards to interest in Harrison. His manager, Ali Abdelaziz, has been investigating all offers, including one from WWE.
Punters have Harrison as the underdog when it comes to potential fights against Cyborg and Nunes. Harrison will have to analyze every aspect of every deal he is offered, be it financial or combat.
Where do you think Harrison will end up?