Two-time PFL champion Kayla Harrison has officially signed with UFC.
Harrison won’t need to wait long to make her promotional debut as she is slated to face Holly Holm at UFC 300 on April 13th.
The news came via UFC CEO Dana White’s social media channels as he built hype around the contest & announced the signing. He said:
“Alright guys, here is another announcement for UFC 300.
"Holly Holm. She was inducted into the boxing Hall Of Fame in 2022. In the history of the Women’s Bantamweight division, she is tied for fourth most wins, sixth most significant strikes landed and has the fourth best takedown defence at 78%.
"Holly Holm is one of the baddest women to ever compete in combat sports, ever. She has fought all the nastiest women in the world in boxing and in MMA, except for one.
“Holly will be taking on the only person in US history to win back to back Olympic Gold medals in Judo. The UFC has officially signed Kayla Harrison. Kayla is 16-1 with 12 finishes, her takedowns, her ground and pound are nasty and this will be the first time she will be competing at Bantamweight.
“So there you have it ladies and gentlemen. That fight, is also, at UFC 300.”
If or when MMA fans would see Kayla Harrison in the UFC has long been speculated. After claiming gold medals at the London and Rio De Janeiro Olympics in 2012 and 2016, Harrison honed her skills and made her professional MMA debut in 2018 for the PFL. 3 fights and three stoppages later, Harrison had already shown just how much of a formidable force she could be.
The performances ultimately led to Harrison featuring as one of the athletes in the 2019 PFL season. After going the distance with Larissa Pacheco, a first round submission over Morgan Frier secured Harrison’s place in the semi-finals against Bobbi-Jo Dalziel. The Ohio born Featherweight made light work of Dalziel, once again displaying her superior ground game and tied up an armbar in the first round. This set up a final with her first-round opponent, Larissa Pacheco.
In only her sixth fight as a professional, Harrison would experience her first 25-minute MMA contest, going the distance with Pacheco but unphased, the American cruised to a unanimous decision win and claimed her first PFL title.
After a fight on Invicta, Harrison returned to the Smart Cage for the 2021 season and blitzed the competition. Looking levels above everyone she fought, Harrison did not see the third round throughout the whole of the 2021 season – only seeing the second round once, in the final against Taylor Guardado. The 2021 season really solidified Harrison as the star so many had her destined to be.
It looked like history was going to be made when Harrison found herself in yet another PFL final in 2022 but her trilogy bout with Pacheco in the final did not go to plan and it was the Brazilian that walked away with the 2022 title.
Holly Holm is a tough match up for anyone at the best of times, but especially when you have the added pressure of debuting for a new promotion and at a new weight. After a tough couple of in which Holm struggled for regular activity, ‘The Preacher’s Daughter’ managed to compete twice in 2023 with a unanimous decision win over Yana Santos and a no contest against recent title challenger Mayra Bueno Silva.
With Holm sitting 5th in the division, a win for Harrison will catapult her into the upper echelon of the women’s Bantamweight division. Although a victory is unlikely do anything for Holm in terms of rankings, Harrison would join a long list of elite female fighters to be defeated by the 42-year-old.