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Kayla Harrison, the 2012 and 2016 Olympic gold medalist in judo, is set to make her MMA debut in July at Professional Fighters League 2 in Chicago.
Harrison signed with World Series of Fighting, now PFL, in late 2016 (h/t MMAJunkie.com’s John Morgan). Since that time she has been training, and the world waiting, for her first professional fight. The organization sent a press release with her on the bill on Wednesday afternoon.
Per the release, Harrison said, “It has been a long road preparing to transition to MMA and I can’t wait to show people just how much I am capable of. It is always my goal to be the best at whatever I do and MMA is no exception.”
MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani reported that her first opponent will be Brittney Elkin. Elkin’s career mark is 3-4 and she is coming off a loss to veteran Amanda Bell at Bellator 181 last July.
Harrison’s debut is being touted as a showcase bout and will not be a part of PFL’s 2018 season. It is also listed as a lightweight, 155 pounds, contest.
The anticipation for Harrison’s debut stems largely from the giant success of Ronda Rousey. Harrison was Rousey’s training partner for the 2008 Beijing Games, but she far surpassed Rousey’s judo credentials when she became the first American woman to win gold in 2012 before repeating in Rio in 2016.
Rousey’s trailblazing path in MMA laid the foundation for Harrison’s foray into the cage for life after judo. She’ll get her chance to show her skills on June 21 at the Chicago Theatre.