Kayla Harrison can be biggest women’s MMA star since Ronda Rousey, more thoughts

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Kayla Harrison can be biggest women’s star in MMA since Ronda Rousey

Harrison, the charismatic, trash-talking, one-woman wrecking crew, who coincidentally happens to be Rousey’s former teammate with USA Judo, won her second $1 million PFL championship Wednesday night, beating Taylor Guardado via armbar submission 4 minutes into Round 2.

With the victory, the undefeated Harrison completed her contract with PFL and she’ll likely have several suitors, including the UFC and Bellator. The PFL will do its darndest to bring her back, too. Harrison will be the biggest MMA free agent in some time and command top dollar for her services in 2022 and beyond.

Harrison told me she’s seeking seven figures per fight. With the right promotion, she has a chance to become a big star, potentially crossing over into the mainstream. Harrison won’t even need much help — she does a ton herself, from finishing fights to being a lightning rod (not unlike Rousey) every time she picks up a microphone.

It’s a high bar to clear, of course. Rousey had one of the most incredible runs in mixed martial arts history, and not just with her string of first-round finishes, title defenses and her ability to pull an armbar submission out of nowhere.

From 2013 to 2016, Rousey headlined six UFC pay-per-view cards, all of which sold at least fairly well. Rousey was a dominant UFC women’s bantamweight champion, but she was also, at a time before the rise of Conor McGregor, one of the most bankable PPV stars in UFC history.

Rousey has not fought since a knockout loss to Amanda Nunes in December 2016. In the nearly five years since Rousey has been gone, there have been only seven UFC pay-per-view shows headlined by women. Two of those featured Cris Cyborg, who is no longer with the UFC and currently plies her trade with Bellator.

All of this is to say that the UFC has not had a massive draw in its women’s divisions since Rousey’s departure.

Nunes, who holds the UFC women’s bantamweight and featherweight titles, would be the closest thing the promotion has to a female pay-per-view draw. She has headlined five UFC pay-per-view cards, but one was against Rousey and the other was UFC 200, which was mired by Jon Jones being pulled from the card during fight week due to a failed drug test.

Harrison vs. Nunes would be one of the biggest women’s fights in MMA history, though they are friends and training partners at American Top Team in Florida. If Harrison goes the Bellator route, the Cyborg fight would be a massive one — a pay-per-view main event caliber battle. And if she stays with PFL, Harrison will continue to be featured as the face of the promotion. Perhaps the PFL could even co-promote with Bellator to make that Harrison vs….

Read More: Kayla Harrison can be biggest women’s MMA star since Ronda Rousey, more thoughts 2021-10-28 05:44:07

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