Judo Olympian Kayla Harrison returns to PFL after promotion matches Bellator contract offer

After months of speculation about where free agent Kayla Harrison would land on the next leg of her MMA journey, it turns out she’s not going anywhere. Following reports that the PFL had initiated its matching rights to counter a bid from Bellator for the two-time Olympic judo gold medalist, Harrison herself confirmed that she had signed a new multi-year deal with the Professional Fighters League in an announcement on ESPN’s SportsCenter (transcript via MMA Fighting).

“I think there’s been a lot of contract negotiations, there’s been a lot of offers, many of which are very lucrative,” Harrison said. “At the end of the day, the PFL had the right to match any contract I received and they escalated in a big way and now I’m going to stay with the PFL. I’m excited.

” I talked to [PFL co-owner] Donn Davis last night and he made it very clear to me that the goals I set for myself, the way I want to challenge myself is always going to be accomplished and the PFL is behind me 100%. They’re not afraid to pay big bucks and bring in big name fighters to come and challenge me.

Harrison (12-0) made his MMA debut in 2018, hitting an unbeaten 7-0 record en route to his first PFL tournament title. After the promotion was put on hiatus in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Harrison earned four more stoppage wins in 2021, earning another lightweight crown and his second million dollar salary in the process.

News of Harrison’s new contract comes just in time for the start of the 2022 PFL season, with the first event scheduled for April. The promotion managed to make at least one other solid addition to their lightweight women’s division this offseason, with the announcement that they had reached an agreement with former Bellator champion Julia Budd. And with the news that former UFC champion Cris Cyborg is nearing the end of her own contract with Bellator, Davis may have a real opportunity to deliver on her promise to Harrison to bring the best competition in the future. not too far.