Anything you can do I can do better. Twice. Yet while Kayla Harrison made history for Team USA on the judo mats in Rio yesterday she’s in no rush to make her mark in the Octagon, despite the inevitable comparisons with MMA’s former leading lady Ronda Rousey.
For those of us in the MMA community, when we think of judo and judokas making the transition into MMA we automatically think of Rousey. ‘Rowdy’ won a Bronze medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing before making a successful switch over to the cage, becoming first Strikeforce then UFC bantamweight champion – and with it transitioning to become one of the sport’s most recognisable athletes.
Harrison made history yesterday as she became the first American to win a gold medal in judo at back-to-back Olympics, replicating her success in London out in Rio. We here at Fighters Only magazine know all about the FUJI-sponsored athlete as our resident judo coach, Jimmy Pedro, is also the Team USA head coach. So it’s safe to say we had a good feeling about her chances in Brazil.
So can we expect her to follow in Rousey’s footsteps and move into MMA? Speaking to reporters in Rio yesterday it seems a switch to the cage isn’t in her plans just yet.
“It’s just so different from judo,” Harrison said. “It’s such a different atmosphere from the Olympic stage. After a match in judo, you shake a person’s hand or you give them a hug. You bow to them to show respect. MMA isn’t like that.
“I don’t know if I’m cut out for a world where you get fights based on how pretty you are and how much you talk, not necessarily what you’ve done in the ring. Right now, I’m going to be focused on being two-time Olympic champion, enjoy the moment and live in the moment. Never say never, but right now, the answer is no to MMA.”
Rousey may not have achieved a gold medal but that didn’t stop her from going on social media and congratulating Harrison. “Congrats to Kayla Harrison winner her second Olympic gold medal in Judo today,” the former UFC champ posted.
Speaking of Rousey, it’s coming up to a year since we last saw her compete in the Octagon, when she lost her championship to Holly Holm. Top contender Juliana Pena made some less than flattering remarks about Rousey when she spoke to TMZ and questions the once dominant champion’s mental state.
“She’s like the emperor in no clothes – she’s broken a little bit,” said Pena. “I just think that nobody cares about Ronda Rousey and her fat arms anymore.” Maybe that’s the type of stuff Kayla Harrison was talking about.