Kayla Harrison Admits Being Afraid For Her Bantamweight Cut

Kayla Harrison recalled being worried about making bantamweight for her debut at UFC 300 against Holly Holm

Harrison was given an ultimatum: either take the UFC fight at bantamweight or move on. Harrison had fought mostly at 155 pounds. Her two PFL World Championship seasons were at lightweight, while the lowest she had fought at was featherweight, beating Courtney King in 2020 at Invicta 43. Harrison’s last fight was a catchweight bout at 150 pounds, beating Aspen Ladd at PFL 10 last year. Harrison chose to face Holm, stopping her in the second round to defy the pre-fight worries. While she made weight for her UFC bout, Harrison felt the pressure. 

“I mean the entire camp I was scared. Not of the fight, the weight. I was scared, I haven’t weighed 135lbs since I was 16 years old. On the test cut, I got down to 140. I walked away from millions of dollars, of pretty much guaranteed money to gamble on this, to take a chance. I got real quiet, I got real still, I prayed and this is where God was calling me to go. This was my dream and this is why I started MMA in the first place. I was all in. But, I didn’t know if I was going to make weight, I can’t believe I made weight.

“I got down to 137 on Thursday night, and then I ate and drank a little bit. I drake more than I was supposed to, because I probably would have floated (the last pound). But, I really wanted to sleep so I drank a little bit. I woke up and I was still a pound over. The last pound was really hard, the last pound was the hardest part for sure,” Harrison said

The win has taken Harrison a step closer to a title shot. The current bantamweight champion is Raquel Pennington, who beat Mayra Bueno Silva at UFC 297 to win the belt. The belt had been vacated by the previous champion, Amanda Nunes, who retired after defeating Irene Aldana at UFC 289 last June.

Nunes reacted to Harrison’s win, disappointed that Kayla did not call her out. They were former training partners at the American Top Team. Nunes would leave in 2022, with rumors Harrison was the reason for the exit. Harrison is open to taking an interim fight against Julianna Pena next. But if Nunes returns, Harrison is interested in that fight.

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“If Amanda was still here, and she was holding the belt, then I would have been calling for Amanda Nunes. But for all intents and purposes, I thought she was happily retired and living her best life…I think that Amanda’s worst enemy is her own mind. She got it in her head that I was coming for her. I think after she lost to Juliana, she thought that I was going to get in the cage and challenge her, which was not true, not the case, not even near true,” Harrison added 

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Amanda NunesHolly HolmIrene AldanaJulianna PenaKayla HarrisonMayra BuenoMMA NewsRaquel Pennington