2-Time Gold Medalist Moved On: ‘I’m Done’

Kayla Harrison

Getty Gold medallist US Kayla Harrison celebrates on the podium at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

MMA star Kayla Harrison is just as excited as everyone else in the world right now about the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo finally kicking off, but she’s already moved on to her new endeavors in a different sport.

Harrison, 31, is a two-time Olympic gold medalist for the United States in Judo. She captured gold at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, and she retired from Judo afterward to transition over to the MMA world.

Harrison currently competes for the Professional Fighters League (PFL).

Harrison explained to Heavy how different these upcoming Olympic Games would be for her in comparison to her last three when she was either trying to make the squad as in 2008 or winning gold medals in her sport as she was in the next two Games.

“Absolutely [I’m excited], this will be my first Games not competing since retiring. I’m excited about it. It will be a little different watching it on my couch instead of the Olympic Village, but I have good friends, good teammates who are competing,” Harrison said.

Harrison specifically mentioned how closely she would be following one of her “close friends” Angelica Delgado, who competes in the 52-kilogram division and is her country’s top-ranked hopeful in Judo now that Harrison has moved on.

But that doesn’t mean Harrison wishes she could be there to compete.

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Harrison Moved On: ‘I’m Done’

Harrison fondly remembers her journey to the Olympics, which started with her first discovering her love for the most dynamic spectacle in international sports way back when all she was capable of doing was dreaming about such glory.

“I’ve been a fan of the Olympics since I was six years old, sitting on my grandma’s couch watching the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta,” Harrison said.

But she also said she doesn’t miss competing at the Olympics now that she’s focused her life on becoming the greatest MMA fighter she can be.

She’s not sad about it.

“Absolutely not,” Harrison said.

And she doesn’t wish she was competing in Tokyo either.

“I’m done,” Harrison said.

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Harrison Returns to MMA Action on August 19

Harrison is 10-0 in MMA. She was the 2019 women’s lightweight champion for the PFL, and now she’s on the path toward defending that dominion.

Winning the PFL championship this year would give Harrison a different type of back-to-back gold.

After an undefeated regular season in the PFL that saw her annihilate each of her two opponents in less than one round each, Harrison is set to face Genah Fabian in the semi-finals at the PFL’s second playoff event scheduled for August 19.

The action will air live across ESPN and ESPN+.

The other women’s lightweight semi-final matchup featured Larissa Pacheco against Taylor Guardado.

The winner of Harrison vs. Fabian and Pacheco vs. Guardado will collide in the finals at the PFL World Championships later this year.

The other two PFL playoff dates are set for August 13 and August 27.

All three 2021 Playoff events will happen at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida, and will air live on ESPN networks and ESPN streaming platforms.

The date and location of the PFL’s 2021 World Championships will be released later this year.

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