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PhotoCred: Drake Riggs

Julia Budd expects Kayla Harrison stays in PFL, ‘It makes the most sense’

Julia Budd made her presence felt at the 2021 PFL Finals in October.

Also fighting the night of Budd’s promotional debut was the divisional champion, Kayla Harrison. A two-time Olympic gold medalist in Judo, Harrison captured her second PFL world title by submitting Taylor Guardado in the second round via armbar.

Harrison has since been testing the free agency waters but a decision has yet to be made as landscapes have changed.

UFC 269 saw reigning bantamweight and featherweight queen Amanda Nunes lose her 135-pound crown. The largely overlooked Julianna Pena came in and upset the all-time great with a second-round rear-naked choke submission. Harrison, Nunes’ then-partner at American Top Team, was in attendance that night and showed visible frustration after the loss.

Perhaps not only because her friend and teammate had been toppled, but because she lost out on making a big fight all that much bigger.

“I think so,” Budd told My MMA News in response to if Nunes losing hurt Harrison’s chances of signing with the UFC. “That could still be a big fight at 145-pounds, I don’t think Kayla could make 135. I think she’s gonna end up staying with PFL this season. It makes the most sense.”

“She can’t stay for one season, she’ll have to stay for three,” Budd’s coach and husband, Lance Gibson Sr. added. “So, it’s like she’ll probably weigh those options out and figure out what’s the best for her. Either way, we’re going to win the PFL championship this year. Whether she goes or not, it doesn’t make a difference.”

Budd’s PFL debut was also her 155-pound lightweight debut which is where she’ll compete going forward. At the 2021 PFL Finals, the former Bellator featherweight champion earned a unanimous decision over Kaitlin Young.

“She definitely fought a good fight,” Budd said. “I was impressed with her skills in there. I wasn’t sure exactly after watching her last fight, I didn’t really know how she was going to come out in the fight with me. She was strong and I was kind of like ‘Oh, okay’ when we first started doing the Muay Thai, it shocked me a little bit with her. I think she took me down and that kind of caught me by surprise.

“But overall, I was super happy with my performance. I thought I almost had the submission at the end of one of those rounds. I wanted to get it so bad and I could hear her gasping for air. But I ran out of time so, overall I was happy with the performance.”

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