After years of waiting, Kayla Harrison is a UFC fighter.
The promotion has signed the Olympic gold medalist turned Professional Fighters League fighter who will have her make her debut against Holly Holm at UFC 300 on April 13, Dana White announced Tuesday.
— danawhite (@danawhite) January 24, 2024
Harrison has long loomed as the most famous female mixed martial artist outside of UFC. She is the only American to win an Olympic gold medal in judo, having done so at 78 kg in 2012 and 2016. She turned pro after that 2016 title and soon became one of PFL's biggest draws.
With PFL, Harrison enjoyed a 15-fight unbeaten streak, stepping out once to fight with Invicta, and she won two lightweight titles. She suffered her first professional loss against Larissa Pacheco in the 2022 lightweight title fight and fought only once in 2023, defeating former UFC fighter Aspen Ladd in a catchweight bout.
Harrison's debut will see her make a move down to bantamweight to face Holm, a requirement due to the apparent end of the women's featherweight division at UFC after Amanda Nunes' retirement. Harrison fought once at featherweight, defeating Courtney King by second-round TKO in her Invicta fight.
The Harrison-Holm fight could loom large in the bantamweight division, in which Raquel Pennington just defeated Mayra Bueno Silva for the belt. Former champion Julianna Peña is the clear next step for Pennington, but Harrison could be well positioned for the shot after that if she defeats Holm, who is currently ranked fifth in the division.
UFC keeps adding to 300 card
Signing Harrison is the kind of splash the UFC was looking for with its UFC 300 card, which was already looking stacked. In addition to Harrison-Holm, fans in Las Vegas will get to see:
Zhang Weili vs. Yan Xiaonan (women's strawweight)
Justin Gaethje vs. Max Holloway (lightweight)
Charles Oliveira vs. Arman Tsarukyan (lightweight)
Jiří Procházka vs. Aleksandar Rakić (light heavyweight)
Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Cody Garbrandt (bantamweight)
Calvin Kattar vs. Aljamain Sterling (featherweight)
Bo Nickal vs. Cody Brundage (middleweight)
Jim Miller vs. Bobby Green (lightweight)
That card now features nine current or former UFC titleholders, in addition to one of the sport's fastest-rising stars (Nickal) and the promotion's all-time leader in wins (Miller). Zhang will be defending her belt against a compatriot in Yan, while Gaethje will be defending his symbolic "BMF" title.