Kayla Harrison is now the hottest free agent in combat sport, thanks to her latest dominant performance inside the PFL cage.
The two-time Olympic judo champion from 2012 and 2016 successfully defended her position as the PFL’s best 155-pound female fighter with a second-round submission of Taylor Guardado in the women’s lightweight final in Hollywood, Florida.
And now, with her current deal with the PFL having run its course, Harrison now finds herself in a position to consider her options as she plots the next chapter of her MMA career.
That career so far has been flawless. The American boasts a perfect 12-0 record, including the 2019 and 2021 PFL women’s lightweight titles. The 2020 season was scrapped due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Harrison’s victory, a second-round armbar, capped yet another dominant display as she proved that she remains head and shoulders above the rest at 155 pounds.
— PFL (@PFLMMA) October 28, 2021
The big question now is whether the UFC or Bellator will be able to offer her a deal to tempt her to drop to 145 pounds and take on their champion, with each promotion featuring bona-fide women’s MMA legends at the top of their respective featherweight divisions.
Bellator’s featherweight division is ruled by Cris Cyborg, whose ferocity and power has seen her hold the position as the most feared featherweight in the world for much of her career.
The UFC, meanwhile, has the greatest of all time. Amanda Nunes holds the promotion’s titles at both 135 and 145 pounds and “The Lioness” is showing no sign of weakness as she continues to defend both belts.
Bellator may offer a slightly deeper division, but the UFC offers the ultimate test. Victory over Cyborg in Bellator would cement Harrison as one of the best to ever step into the cage. But if she defeats Nunes, there can be no doubt who the best female fighter on the planet really is.
The other option is to remain with the PFL, who would surely break the bank to retain their biggest name and most dominant champion. Her message then would be a simple one? “Think you’re the best? Come to PFL and beat me, if you can.”
The night saw six champions crowned, with the co-main event of the evening seeing Ray Cooper III recapture the title in spectacular fashion with a third-round knockout of Magomed Magomedkerimov.
— PFL (@PFLMMA) October 28, 2021
Bruno Cappelozza defeated Ante Delija on the scorecards to win the heavyweight title, while Movlid Khaybulaev dominated Chris Wade to win every round on all three scorecards to claim a shutout win, and the featherweight title.
Brazil’s Antonio Carlos Junior submitted Marthin Hamlet in the first round to capture light heavyweight gold while, in the first title fight of the night, Raush Manfio outpointed Loik Radzhabov to win the lightweight title.
All six winners won $1 million each.
Elsewhere on the card, former Bellator women’s featherweight champion made a winning start to life as a PFL fighter with a unanimous decision victory over Kaitlin Young, while it proved to be a disappointing night for world champion boxer Claressa Shields, who experienced her first taste of defeat inside the cage after being edged out by split-decision by Abigail Montes.
PFL 2021 Championship: Full Results
- Kayla Harrison def. Taylor Guardado via submission (armbar) – Round 2, 4:00 – women’s lightweight final
- Ray Cooper III def. Magomed Magomedkerimov via knockout (punches) – Round 3, 3:02 – welterweight final
- Abigail Montes def. Claressa Shields via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Bruno Cappelozza def. Ante Delija via unanimous decision (49-45, 49-45, 48-46) – heavyweight final
- Movlid Khaybulaev def. Chris Wade via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45) – featherweight final
- Antonio Carlos Junior def. Marthin Hamlet via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 3:49 – light heavyweight final
- Raush Manfio def. Loik Radzhabov via unanimous decision (48-46, 48-46, 49-46)– lightweight final
- Jordan Young def. Omari Akhmedov via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 1:32
- Julia Budd def. Kaitlin Young via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Don Madge def. Nathan Williams via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 2:15