Former two time Olympic gold medalist, Kayla Harrison has embraced the expectations put upon her heading into her MMA career.
The now 2-0 fighter is looking towards what’s next for her as a fighter, and after her third round TKO win over Jozette Cotton, Harrison needed some perspective.
“Initially, I actually got off the mat, got out of the cage, and I was really upset,” Harrison told Luke Thomas on The MMA Hour. “Really frustrated, really emotional about it because I want to be the best in the world and you can’t be the best in the world if it’s taking you that long to put away people, but once I calmed down, once I talked to Mike (Brown), and ‘Big Jim’ (Jim Pedro Sr.), and I talked to Tony (Martin), sort of let the emotions settle, I realized that’s invaluable experience.
“One of the biggest things I was always concerned with was my gas tank because I always felt like I wasn’t in great shape for MMA for some reason. In judo, I always felt like I could have 20 matches in a day and I would always be in better shape than my opponents; in MMA, I get so tired so fast, so I really had a lot of anxiety about my gas tank. But it’s good to know that I felt just as fresh in the third round as I did in the first, so I’m happy with it.”
While the judoka turned MMA fighter is still a work in progress, Harrison feels that her experience in her prior sport has been able to bolster her development.
“Grabbing the gi and holding onto someone and pushing and pulling and that is so much different than having the quick reflexes of throwing out a jab,” Harrison said. “Yes, my hand speed is fast because I’m used to grabbing a gi, but really I’m not anywhere close to what a boxer would be or what a kickboxer would be. That speed is something that I have to learn.”
Coupled with a lack of depth and no dedicated division in the PFL for lightweights, Harrison knows a drop to featherweight is possible, but not immediate. And whether it is in the PFL or another company or at either 155 or 145 pounds, Harrison is convinced she can win a major title by the end of 2019.
“I picture that every night,” Harrison said. “I have since I first decided that I was gonna fight. That’s the end goal. I fully expect by the end of next year I will be one of the best — if not the best — in the world.”
Intiial Report: MMA Fighting