The UFC has finally welcomed Kayla Harrison to its ranks. Dana White announced that the Olympic judo champion and former Professional Fighters League star will make her highly-anticipated UFC debut facing Holly Holm at UFC 300 on April 13.
Harrison, renowned as the top female mixed martial artist not previously in the UFC, is celebrated for her Olympic achievements, winning gold in judo at 78 kg in both 2012 and 2016. Transitioning to professional MMA after her 2016 Olympic triumph, she quickly rose to fame in the PFL, amassing a 15-fight undefeated streak. This streak included two lightweight championship victories, though she experienced her first professional defeat in a 2022 lightweight title match against Larissa Pacheco. In 2023, she marked a comeback by defeating former UFC contender Aspen Ladd in a catchweight fight.
Her UFC debut marks a shift to the bantamweight class to challenge Holm, necessitated by the discontinuation of the UFC’s women’s featherweight division following Amanda Nunes’ retirement. Harrison’s sole featherweight encounter saw her victorious over Courtney King in Invicta.
This matchup with Holm is pivotal for the bantamweight category, where Raquel Pennington recently claimed the title. A win against the fifth-ranked Holm could propel Harrison into title contention.
UFC 300, set to be a monumental event in Las Vegas, boasts a lineup including nine current or former UFC champions. Among them, Zhang is slated to defend her title, and Gaethje will be upholding his “BMF” title, enhancing the card’s allure.