JudoInside – News – What next for US judo great Kayla Harrison after New York defeat?

In the eyes of the American public and huge swathes of the combat sport world, Kayla Harrison is one of the most successful fighters to have ever emerged from the United States.

A two-time Olympic gold medallist at judo (London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016), Harrison has seen her profile continue to grow in the world of combat sports.

Like many wrestlers and other martial artists, Harrison has made the transition into the world of MMA – simply due to the huge differences in terms of finances involved.

Competing for a country at judo has plenty of intrinsic value but for many fighters, that simply isn’t enough – as they look to secure their long term futures.

Two years after her triumph in Rio, Harrison stepped into the professional MMA octagon and she hasn’t looked back at all since.

Fighting at both lightweight and flyweight, Harrison has enjoyed a stellar 5 years or so in the world of MMA – being crowned Professional Fighters League champion in both 2019 and 2021.

Heading into 2022, very little looked to be different for Harrison, as she lined up similar opponents to previous years, in her pursuit of glory.

Beating Martina Jindrova inside one round in the PFL semi-final in London in August of this year, suggested that she was in fine fettle and ready for the challenges that lay ahead.

However, Harrison came unstuck last time out in the PFL final – succumbing to a unanimous decision defeat against Larissa Pacheco – an opponent she had beaten in their two previous meetings.

Losing a career unbeaten record is always a tough one to accept and Harrison is sure to be reeling after the defeat in New York and how she will be out to avenge it.

For many though, it does beg the question for Harrison as to her next move both within the sport of mixed martial arts and where she could go in a lightweight division she has historically dominated.

The lure of the UFC will surely be there for Harrison, who is a big deal to all and sundry in the US – as epitomized by the capacity crowd out to see her in New York in losing to Pacheco.

Beyond that, Harrison has plenty of irons in the fire commercially but at the age of just 32, she still has plenty of fights ahead of her, should she choose to pursue them.

At +1000 to win the 2023 PFL with New York legal mobile betting operators in New York, Harrison looks unlikely to make a return to the competition next year – having said she’s stepping away but as the odds suggest, she certainly can’t be discarded if she changes her mind.

This article was originally published on www.judoinside.com

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