When two-time Olympic judo gold medalist Kayla Harrison signed with the Professional Fighters League (PFL), the expectations were rather high that she would develop into a top notch mixed martial artist.
Obviously there are no guarantees when predicting how any fighter will develop and evolve in the sport even one as gifted as Harrison.
Still the pedigree was there, especially considering Harrison’s background when compared to former UFC women’s champion Ronda Rousey, who her teammate on the United States judo team once upon a time.
Through two fights thus far in her career, Harrison has proven to be every bit of the prospect she was expected to be and PFL president of fight operations Ray Sefo knows that this is just the beginning for her.
“I think Kayla is a superstar,” Sefo told MMAWeekly. “All you have to do is look at her achievements being the only American to have won two gold medals back-to-back in judo. That’s a huge achievement. Kayla came out to Vegas and I ended up moving around with her and holding pads for her for a couple of days and it was truly amazing to see what this girl could do. That’s when I knew she had the potential.
“She hits hard, punches hard, kicks hard and we haven’t really seen that part of her game yet. That’s obviously what her and her team are developing with her striking and her ground game is solid. Her last opponent was 8-1 and Kayla had no problem finishing that fight. She’s definitely a huge star in the making.”
Harrison will compete on the upcoming ‘season finale’ card for PFL on New Year’s Eve and then she will take part in the 155-pound women’s tournament that will take place in the promotion next year.
The spotlight will definitely be brighter than ever when Harrison competes in that series of fights with $1 million going to the winner after a regular season and playoff format.
Obviously there are no guarantees that Harrison will win but Sefo says every metric he can measure tells him that she’s got a very bright future ahead of her.
“You never know so time will tell but she’s already showing those signs why she is an Olympic champion,” Sefo stated. “She’s a dedicated athlete for what she does. Last time I talked to her she said ‘boss, the only thing I want to do is become champion but I also want to fight the best’. That’s going to take time.
“She’s only 2-0 and I think Kayla is definitely a superstar in the making.”