Kayla Harrison signs with UFC, debuts at bantamweight against Holly Holm at UFC 300

Kayla Harrison is finally a UFC fighter.

On Tuesday, UFC CEO Dana White announced that the two-time Olympic gold medalist judoka and two-time PFL champion has signed an exclusive deal to join the UFC roster, where she will compete as a bantamweight.

Her first assignment will come against former bantamweight champion Holly Holm at UFC 300, which takes place on April 13 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

It’s a stunning turn of events for Harrison, who spent her entire MMA career with the PFL but recently hit free agency at the end of her contract. PFL made attempts to keep Harrison on the roster but ultimately the 33-year-old Ohio native decided to move to the UFC.

During her career, Harrison has posted an impressive 16-1 record with her only loss coming in a decision to Larissa Pacheco in 2022. Outside of that lone setback, Harrison has been perfect, including two prior wins over Pacheco as well as a recent victory over UFC veteran Aspen Ladd.

Now she’ll make the move down to bantamweight after spending her entire career competing at either lightweight or featherweight. Harrison previously discussed the potential move with MMA Fighting when contemplated her future in the sport.

“I mean, 135 will challenge me in ways, like I’m going to have to lose a piece of me to be able to fight at 135 pounds,” Harrison said this past November. “I think just structurally, I carry a lot of muscle. I’m already kind of lean, so I’m going to have to lose muscle. I’m going to have to change my entire lifestyle. I mean, I have already done that to fight at 145.

“It’s crazy what happens when you take care of your body and eat properly and sleep and recover. I was a knucklehead when I was younger. But I have faith whatever is meant to be, will be.”

In her bantamweight debut, Harrison clashes with Holm, a former 135-pound champion and stalwart near the top of the rankings in the UFC. Holm has gone 3-1 with one no contest in her past five outings, including wins over Irene Aldana, Yana Santos, and new UFC bantamweight champion Raquel Pennington.

Harrison vs. Holm is the latest addition to the growing UFC 300 card, which remains without a main event at this time.

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