Last night in Invicta FC, PFL granted their crown jewel, Kayla Harrison, a temporary reprieve on their contract and allowed the PFL champion to fight in another promotion. PFL, who shut their entire season down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, allowed Harrison to get some rounds in despite being locked up by contract.
Kayla Harrison is the defending 155 pound champion and made her 145 debut last night. The fight was one sided. Harrison dispatched the 4-1 Courtney King in the second round for her featherweight debut. The win sent a message across the MMA universe and showed us a potential glimpse at Harrison’s future.
Kayla Harrison The Idea Behind 155
Weight cutting is a huge issue in MMA, boxing, and just about every combat sport. Fighters kill themselves to gain a size advantage which ends up not mattering because their opponent is getting the same size advantage. There have been very few studies on what havoc a weight cut reaps on an athletes body, including life span. Harrison is prolonging her career by fighting at 155. With smaller weight cuts, Harrison is hedging her bets on weight cutting being bad. After all, she fought at 78 kilos in the Olympics, which is 171 pounds, a welterweight.
Kayla Harrison has already won a million dollars in the PFL women’s lightweight tournament, and will likely do that this next year as well. Being set financially, Harrison can now concentrate on what is likely more important to her: legacy. Olympians sacrifice their whole lives for legacy. They become obsessed by it. Now that Harrison has cemented herself in the world of Judo and the Olympics, her new obsession is her new career, MMA.
Kayla Harrison will not stay in PFL her whole life, not with the legacy mindset Olympians commonly have. Kayla Harrison is UFC destined. Now 8-0, Harrison is getting in precious rounds and experience fighting and we’ve seen her improve on the feet substantially. She is getting better every fight.
The New Target: Amanda Nunes
WMMA has had three real legends that have transcended the sport: Ronda Rousey, Cris Cyborg, and Amanda Nunes. Rousey was famously put away by Holly Holm. Cyborg was done in by Nunes. It is Amanda Nunes that has yet to really be conquered as a champion. Amanda Nunes is the perfect legacy fight for Kayla Harrison. The issue that lies here is the weight cut. Harrison is a big person in general.
The fight at Invicta was a statement to Amanda Nunes, Dana White and the UFC: “I’m coming.” While it remains to be seen if Kayla Harrison has the skills to defeat Amanda Nunes, the vigor and drive to get there will be the lead up. As discussed in The Path to the Olympics, the UFC loves Olympians. The massive push behind them is apparent with Henry Cejudo, Ronda Rousey, and many more. Harrison has that built in story that the UFC can feast on.
Should Kayla Harrison go to the UFC after next PFL season and begin her 145 career in the UFC, the hype train will intensify and her and Nunes, should she still be fighting, will be on a collision course much like Nunes and Cyborg. The upcoming PFL season will give four or five more fights of experience, preparing her for her rise through the featherweight division. What we saw last night in Invicta was a test drive of the 145 weight and Harrison passed.
We won’t know how the potential super fight plays out between Harrison and Nunes until the cage is locked and the bell rings. All we can do now is watch in real time as the prospect builds her resume up and makes her path clear as time goes by. Thanks for reading.
Check out the author’s podcast, The Fight Library Podcast, on Spotify, and everywhere else you get your podcasts. Last episode features TomTom, Martin Day and Jack Grant.
Your friendly neighborhood fight fan. I watch way too many fights and my wife lets me know it. Also, Cowboy Cerrone is the GOAT.