Kayla Jean Harrison (born July 2, 1990) is an American professional mixed martial artist and former Olympic and world champion judoka, currently signed to the Professional Fighters League (PFL).
Harrison competed in the 78 kg (172 lb) weight category in judo. She won the 2010 World Judo Championships, gold medals at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, and gold at the 2011 and 2015 Pan American Games.
After the 2016 Olympics, she moved into mixed martial arts and currently fights in the lightweight division. In March 2023, Harrison was inducted into the International Sports Hall of Fame.
Born in Middletown, Ohio, Harrison took up judo at the age of six, having been introduced to the sport by her mother, who was a black belt. She graduated from Middletown High School (Ohio).
She began training under coach Daniel Doyle, and won two national championships by the age of 15. During that period Doyle was sexually abusing Harrison, who reported it to another judoka, who in turn told Harrison's mother. She subsequently reported this to the police. Doyle was convicted and sentenced to a ten-year prison term. A month after the abuse was revealed, she moved away from her home in Ohio to Boston to train with Jimmy Pedro and his father.
She changed weight classes in 2008, from the –63 kg division to the –78 kg division. She could not compete in the 2008 Summer Olympics as the United States had not qualified in that division. She won the 2008 Junior World Championship that year, and the following year placed second, becoming the first American to compete in two Junior World Championships finals.
She won the gold medal in the –78 kg category at the 2010 World Judo Championships, the first American to do so since 1999 (when her coach, Jimmy Pedro, did so in Birmingham, United Kingdom). At the 2011 World Judo Championships in Paris, she placed third taking the bronze medal. Harrison had lost to the eventual winner, Audrey Tcheuméo of France, in her semi-final.
Prior to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, she was injured during training, having torn a medial collateral ligament. On August 2, 2012, she won the Olympic title in the –78 kg category, defeating Gemma Gibbons of Britain by two yukos, to become the first American to win an Olympic gold medal in judo. She earned a second Olympic gold medal in the same weight class in 2016 in Rio, defeating Audrey Tcheuméo of France.
In 2015, Harrison was elected to the United States Judo Federation Hall Of Fame and on August 31, 2016, following her second Olympic gold medal, the United States Judo Association made a batsugun promotion of Harrison to rokudan (6th Degree Black Belt) making her the youngest person in the US to ever be awarded this rank.
Mixed martial arts
Harrison, a former training partner of fellow judoka Ronda Rousey, announced in October 2016 that she had signed with World Series of Fighting. While she would initially work as a commentator she also indicated she was contracted to fight, probably in the women's 145 pounds (66 kg) division.
Harrison made her MMA debut at PFL 2 on June 21, 2018, against Brittney Elkin in the Women's Lightweight division. She won via submission due to an armbar in the first round.
For her second professional fight, Harrison faced Jozette Cotton at PFL 6 on August 16, 2018. She won the fight via TKO in the third round.
Harrison was on the main card for PFL 11 in 2018 and defeated Moriel Charneski via first-round TKO; after her victory, it appeared that she was not completely content with her own performance.
PFL season 2019
Harrison was expected to headline the first event of PFL's second season against Svetlana Khautova on May 9, 2019. Khautova withdrew from the bout and was replaced by Larissa Pacheco. Harrison won the fight by unanimous decision.
Harrison faced Morgan Frier in the co-main event of PFL 4 on July 11, 2019. She won the fight by key lock submission in the first round. Subsequently, Harrison signed a new long-term contract extension with the PFL.
After becoming second in the preliminary round standing, Harrison secured a position at the playoffs. She was originally scheduled to face number 3 ranked Genah Fabian at PFL 7 on October 11, 2019, but Fabian was forced to pull out of the bout. Fabian was replaced by number 5 Bobbi Jo Dalziel. Harrison would win the fight by an armbar in the first round.
Harrison faced Larissa Pacheco in rematch for the Women's Lightweight final at PFL 10 on December 31, 2019. After dominating every round with her superior grappling, Harrison won the fight by unanimous decision to win the 2019 Women's Lightweight Championship.
PFL season 2020
Harrison was expected to compete in the season 2020 of PFL, but the complete season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the 2020 PFL season cancelled, Harrison was handed a contract exemption to sign with the Invicta FC and made her debut in the Featherweight division against Courtney King at Invicta FC 43 on November 20, 2020. She won the fight via TKO in the second round.
Harrison was then expected to compete for Titan FC. She was scheduled to face Jozette Cotton in a rematch on December 17, 2020, at Titan FC 66. The day before the fight, Cotton was hospitalized due to a bad weight cut and the bout was cancelled.
PFL season 2021
Kayla faced Mariana Morais on May 6, 2021, at PFL 3 for the start of the 2021 season. She won the bout via TKO in the first round.
Kayla faced Cindy Dandois on June 25, 2021, at PFL 6. She won the bout in the first round via an arm bar submission.
Kayla faced Genah Fabian in the Semifinals of the Women's Lightweight tournament on August 19, 2021, at PFL 8. She won the bout in the first round via TKO by way of ground and pound.
Kayla faced Taylor Guardado in the Finals of the Women's Lightweight tournament on October 27, 2021, at PFL 10. She won the bout via armbar in the second round.
Being one of the most sought-after free agents in the sport, Harrison ended up signing a contract with Bellator MMA in March of 2022. However, PFL exercised their matching right, and Harrison re-signed – a deal set to be terminated in December of 2023 – with them.
PFL season 2022
Harrison faced Marina Mokhnatkina on May 6, 2022, at PFL 3. She won the bout via unanimous decision.
Harrison was scheduled to face Julia Budd on July 1, 2022, at PFL 6. However, a week before the event, Budd pulled out due to injury and was replaced by Kaitlin Young. Harrison won the bout, with the referee stoppage at the 2:35 mark of the first round.
Harrison faced Martina Jindrová in the Semifinals off the Women's Lightweight tournament on August 20, 2022, at PFL 9. She won the bout in the first round via arm-triangle choke.
Harrison faced Larissa Pacheco for a third time in the finals of the Women's Lightweight tournament on November 25, 2022, at PFL 10. In an upset, she lost the fight via unanimous decision.
In 2020, Harrison acquired full custody of her niece Kyla and nephew Emery, after her stepfather – who had custody of the children at the time – died suddenly.
Kayla Harrison has been a guest in episode 24 of season 6, and in episode 4 of season 7, of the television show Impractical Jokers.
She also appeared on an episode of Flea Market Flip with her grandmother.
Championships and accomplishments
- Professional Fighters League
Mixed martial arts record
|16 matches||15 wins||1 loss|
|Loss||15–1||Larissa Pacheco||Decision (unanimous)||PFL 10||November 25, 2022||5||5:00||New York City, New York, United States||2022 PFL Women's Lightweight Tournament Final.|
|Win||15–0||Martina Jindrová||Submission (arm-triangle choke)||PFL 9||August 20, 2022||1||3:17||London, England||2022 PFL Women's Lightweight Tournament Semifinal.|
|Win||14–0||Kaitlin Young||TKO (punches)||PFL 6||July 1, 2022||1||2:35||Atlanta, Georgia, United States|
|Win||13–0||Marina Mokhnatkina||Decision (unanimous)||PFL 3||May 6, 2022||3||5:00||Arlington, Texas, United States|
|Win||12–0||Taylor Guardado||Submission (armbar)||PFL 10||October 27, 2021||2||4:00||Hollywood, Florida, United States||Won the 2021 PFL Women's Lightweight Tournament.|
|Win||11–0||Genah Fabian||TKO (punches)||PFL 8||August 19, 2021||1||4:01||Hollywood, Florida, United States||2021 PFL Women's Lightweight Semifinal.|
|Win||10–0||Cindy Dandois||Submission (armbar)||PFL 6||June 25, 2021||1||4:44||Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||9–0||Mariana Morais||TKO (punches)||PFL 3||May 6, 2021||1||1:23||Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States||Return to Lightweight.|
|Win||8–0||Courtney King||TKO (punches)||Invicta FC 43||November 20, 2020||2||4:48||Kansas City, Kansas, United States||Featherweight debut.|
|Win||7–0||Larissa Pacheco||Decision (unanimous)||PFL 10||December 31, 2019||5||5:00||New York City, New York, United States||Won the 2019 PFL Women's Lightweight Tournament.|
|Win||6–0||Bobbi Jo Dalziel||Submission (armbar)||PFL 7||October 11, 2019||1||3:32||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States||2019 PFL Women's Lightweight Semifinal.|
|Win||5–0||Morgan Frier||Submission (key lock)||PFL 4||July 11, 2019||1||3:35||Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||4–0||Larissa Pacheco||Decision (unanimous)||PFL 1||May 9, 2019||3||5:00||Uniondale, New York, United States|
|Win||3–0||Moriel Charneski||TKO (punches)||PFL 11||December 31, 2018||1||3:39||New York City, New York, United States|
|Win||2–0||Jozette Cotton||TKO (punches)||PFL 6||August 16, 2018||3||1:24||Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||1–0||Brittney Elkin||Submission (armbar)||PFL 2||June 21, 2018||1||3:18||Chicago, Illinois, United States||Lightweight debut.|
|Win||45-7||Audrey Tcheuméo||100-000||2016 Olympic Games||-78 kg||August 11, 2016||Rio de Janeiro|
|Win||41-7||Mayra Aguiar||100-000||2016 Pan American Championship||-78 kg||April 24, 2016||Havana|
|Loss||38-7||Yoon Hyun-ji||000-010||2015 World Championship||-78 kg||August 28, 2015||Astana|
|Win||37-6||Mayra Aguiar||100-000S1||2015 Pan American Games||-78 kg||July 14, 2015||Toronto|
|Loss||34-6||Mayra Aguiar||000-000||2015 Pan American Championship||-78 kg||April 24, 2015||Edmonton|
|Win||32-5||Yahima Ramirez||000-000||2014 World Championship||-78 kg||August 29, 2014||Chelyabinsk|
|Win||28-4||Vanessa Chala||2013 Pan American Championship||-70 kg||April 19, 2013||San José|
|Win||27-4||Alix Renaud Roy|
|Win||24-3||Gemma Gibbons||0020-0000||2012 Olympic Games||-78 kg||August 2, 2012||London|
|Win||20-3||Catherine Roberge||011-001||2011 Pan American Games||-78 kg||October 27, 2011||Guadalajara|
|Win||17-3||Marhinde Verkerk||001-000||2011 World Championship||-78 kg||August 26, 2011||Paris|
|Win||13-2||Mayra Aguiar||000-000||2011 Pan American Championship||-78 kg||April 1, 2011||Guadalajara|
|Win||9-2||Mayra Aguiar||001-000||2010 World Championship||-78 kg||September 9, 2010||Tokyo|
|Win||4-2||Mirla Nolberto Labriel||100-000||2010 Pan American Championship||-78 kg||April 9, 2010||San Salvador|
|Loss||1-1||Amy Cotton||000-001||2009 World Championship||-78 kg||August 26, 2009||Rotterdam|
- ^ a b Mixed martial arts show results Date: October 11, 2019
- ^ a b c Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill; et al. "Kayla Harrison". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on April 18, 2020.
- ^ "Kayla Harrison". www.pflmma.com.
- ^ Mike Bohn (April 16, 2019). "Kayla Harrison: Winning PFL title, $1 million won't change MMA motivation". mmajunkie.com.
- ^ Myron Medcalf (May 9, 2019). "Meet Kayla Harrison: Olympic gold medalist, face of PFL and MMA's next star". ESPN.
- ^ Dr. Robert M. Goldman. "2023 International Sports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony (Full Program) Official Footage". Retrieved March 17, 2023.
- ^ a b "Kayla Harrison". United States Olympic Committee. Retrieved August 2, 2012.
- ^ "Kayla Harrison High School". Archived from the original on April 25, 2018. Retrieved August 13, 2016.
- ^ a b c d Chadband, Ian (August 1, 2012). "US Judoka Kayla Harrison overcomes horror of sexual abuse to aim for gold". The Telegraph. Retrieved August 2, 2012.
- ^ "Wenatchee's Farrar second in stage in Spain | A.M. Briefing". Seattle Times. September 9, 2010. Archived from the original on September 11, 2010. Retrieved August 2, 2012.
Kayla Harrison defeated Mayra Aguiar of Brazil in the 78-kilogram final in Tokyo to become the first American woman to win a gold medal at the judo world championships since 1984.
- ^ "Kayla Harrison Wins World Championships – First American to Win Since 1999". Team USA. September 9, 2010. Archived from the original on August 2, 2012. Retrieved August 2, 2012.
- ^ "Kayla Harrison wins bronze at 2011 World Judo Championships". PRLOG. August 26, 2011. Retrieved August 2, 2012.
- ^ "Olympics: Harrison wins first judo gold for America". The Times of India. Retrieved August 2, 2012.
- ^ Perrotta, Tom (July 19, 2016). "How an American Took Down Judo". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
- ^ "2015 Members of USJF Hall of Fame | United States Judo Federation".
- ^ Morgan, John (October 27, 2016). "Two-time Olympic gold medalist Kayla Harrison signs with WSOF". MMA Junkie.
- ^ "Kayla Harrison will compete in MMA, signs with WSOF". MMA Fighting. October 27, 2016.
- ^ "Kayla Harrison vs. Brittney Elkin set for PFL 2". MMA Fighting. May 2, 2018.
- ^ "PFL 2 results: Kayla Harrison wins pro debut over Brittney Elkin via armbar". MMA Fighting. June 21, 2018.
- ^ Jay Anderson (July 31, 2018). "Kayla Harrison Returns at PFL 6 Against Jozette Cotton". cagesidepress.com.
- ^ "PFL 6 results and highlights: Olympic gold medalist Kayla Harrison wins 2nd pro fight by TKO". Bloody Elbow. August 17, 2018.
- ^ "Report: Kayla Harrison's PFL 11 opponent set". MMAjunkie.com. November 21, 2018.
- ^ Brett Okamoto (December 31, 2018). "Kayla Harrison defeats Moriel Charneski by 1st-round TKO at PFL 11". ESPN.
- ^ Sherdog.com. "Kayla Harrison: 'I Had to Fight'". Sherdog. Retrieved April 27, 2021.
- ^ "Kayla Harrison vs. Svetlana Khautova now headlines PFL's season debut". mmajunkie.com. May 2, 2019.
- ^ Alexander K. Lee (May 6, 2019). "Larissa Pacheco will now face Kayla Harrison in the PFL 12 main event". mmafighting.com.
- ^ "PFL 2019 Week 1 Results and Recap". cagesidepress.com. May 9, 2019.
- ^ Tristen Critchfield (May 26, 2019). "Kayla Harrison, Magomed Magomedkerimov Get Fights at PFL 4: 2019 Regular Season". sherdog.com.
- ^ Dave Doyle (July 11, 2019). "PFL 2019, Week 4 results: Kayla Harrison stays unbeaten with first-round finish of Morgan Frier". MMAjunkie.com.
- ^ Damon Martin (October 10, 2019). "Two-time Olympic gold medalist Kayla Harrison inks long-term extension with PFL". mmafighting.com.
- ^ Jay Anderson (September 4, 2019). "PFL 2019 Playoff Match-Ups Officially Announced". cagesidepress.com.
- ^ Damon Martin (October 10, 2019). "Kayla Harrison gets new opponent 24 hours ahead of PFL 7". mmafighting.com.
- ^ Alexander K. Lee (October 12, 2019). "PFL 7 playoff results: Kayla Harrison armbars her way to finals, David Michaud to face Ray Cooper III for welterweight crown". mmafighting.com.
- ^ Adam Martin (November 1, 2019). "PFL 2019 finals set for New Year's Eve finale in New York City". bjpenn.com.
- ^ Alexander K. Lee (December 31, 2019). "PFL 10 results: Kayla Harrison dominates, Ray Cooper III punches way to $1M prize". mmafighting.com.
- ^ Farah Hannoun (March 4, 2020). "All six PFL champions to return for 2020 season". MMAjunkie.com.
- ^ Dave Doyle (April 26, 2020). "Kayla Harrison copes with uncertainty after PFL postponed 2020 season". MMAjunkie.com.
- ^ Kathrine Burne (November 11, 2020). "PFL And Olympic Champion Kayla Harrison Set For Invicta Debut". jitsmagazine.com.
- ^ Kathrine Burne (December 9, 2020). "Kayla Harrison Dominates In Her Invicta FC Debut And Moves To 8-0". jitsmagazine.com.
- ^ Kahtrine Burne (December 9, 2020). "Kayla Harrison Set For One More MMA Fight In 2020". jitsmagazine.com.
- ^ Simon Samano (December 7, 2020). "PFL champion Kayla Harrison books rematch vs. Jozette Cotton at Titan FC 66". MMAjunkie.com.
- ^ Danny Segura (December 16, 2020). "PFL champ Kayla Harrison's Titan FC 66 bout canceled after Jozette Cotton's bad weight cut". MMAjunkie.com.
- ^ Santiago, Chris De (March 9, 2021). "PFL Announce Heavyweight & Women's Lightweight Matchups For New Season". LowKickMMA.com. Retrieved May 1, 2021.
- ^ Anderson, Jay (May 6, 2021). "PFL 3 Results: Kayla Harrison Beats Down Mariana Morais". Cageside Press. Retrieved May 7, 2021.
- ^ Newswire, MMA Fighting (June 1, 2021). "Kayla Harrison vs. Cindy Dandois headlines PFL 6 card on June 25, Fabricio Werdum also returns". MMA Fighting. Retrieved June 1, 2021.
- ^ Anderson, Jay (June 26, 2021). "PFL 6: Kayla Harrison Submits Cindy Dandois, Headed to Post-Season". Cageside Press. Retrieved June 26, 2021.
- ^ Newswire, MMA Fighting (July 20, 2021). "PFL playoff cards announced with first event kicking off Aug. 13 with Rory MacDonald vs. Ray Cooper in main event". MMA Fighting. Retrieved July 20, 2021.
- ^ Anderson, Jay (August 19, 2021). "PFL Playoffs 2: Kayla Harrison Dominates Genah Fabian, Heads to Second Straight Final". Cageside Press. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
- ^ "Undefeated Harrison headlines PFL's 2021 Finals". ESPN.com. September 27, 2021. Retrieved September 27, 2021.
- ^ Anderson, Jay (October 27, 2021). "PFL Championship 2021: Kayla Harrison Submits Taylor Guardado for Second Straight Championship". Cageside Press. Retrieved October 28, 2021.
- ^ a b Brett Okamoto (May 8, 2023). "PFL's Kayla Harrison says 'slim' chance she'll face 'Cyborg'". ESPN.
- ^ "Harrison, Cooper to headline PFL3 event". ESPN.com. April 5, 2022. Retrieved April 5, 2022.
- ^ Anderson, Jay (May 6, 2022). "PFL 3: Marina Mokhnatkina Proves Game, but Kayla Harrison's Win Never in Doubt". Cageside Press. Retrieved May 7, 2022.
- ^ "Harrison gets toughest test yet vs. Budd at PFL 6". ESPN.com. June 1, 2022. Retrieved June 1, 2022.
- ^ Marrocco, Steven (June 23, 2022). "Kayla Harrison now meets Kaitlin Young at PFL 6 after Julia Budd injury". MMA Fighting. Retrieved June 24, 2022.
- ^ Anderson, Jay (July 1, 2022). "PFL 6: Kayla Harrison Steamrolls Veteran Kaitlin Young, Heads to Third Straight Post-Season". Cageside Press. Retrieved July 2, 2022.
- ^ Hannoun, Farah (May 24, 2022). "2022 PFL playoff schedule includes U.K. doubleheader, promotion's first international shows". MMA Junkie. Retrieved July 2, 2022.
- ^ Segura, Danny (August 20, 2022). "2022 PFL Playoffs 3 results: Kayla Harrison dominates Martina Jindrova, declares herself queen of women's MMA". MMA Junkie. Retrieved August 24, 2022.
- ^ "2022 PFL Championships lineup set for Thanksgiving week pay-per-view, includes 6 title fights and more". MMA Junkie. September 28, 2022. Retrieved September 29, 2022.
- ^ Damon Martin (November 26, 2022). "Larissa Pacheco shocks the world with stunning upset to beat Kayla Harrison in PFL Championship main event". mmafighting.com. Retrieved November 26, 2022.
- ^ Marc Raimondi (April 21, 2021). "From new routines to new jobs, how Kayla Harrison and other PFL fighters spent their year away". ESPN.
- ^ Kayla Harrison: Who you call when s**t gets real. mmaweekly.com. May 4, 2021. Archived from the original on December 15, 2021 – via YouTube.
- Kayla Harrison on Twitter
- Kayla Harrison at US Judo Hall of Fame
- Kayla Harrison at PFL
- 2012 Olympic −78 kg gold medal match: Kayla Harrison (United States) vs. Gemma Gibbons (United Kingdom) (International Olympic Committee on YouTube)
- Kayla Harrison at IJF, JudoInside.com, AllJudo, Sherdog, Tapology, Fight Matrix, Olympics.com, Olympedia, U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee
- 1990 births
- American female judoka
- Judoka at the 2011 Pan American Games
- Judoka at the 2012 Summer Olympics
- Judoka at the 2015 Pan American Games
- Judoka at the 2016 Summer Olympics
- Living people
- Medalists at the 2012 Summer Olympics
- Medalists at the 2016 Summer Olympics
- Olympic gold medalists for the United States in Judo
- Olympic judoka for the United States
- Pan American Games gold medalists for the United States
- Pan American Games medalists in judo
- Sportspeople from Middletown, Ohio
- Sportspeople from the Cincinnati metropolitan area
- Lightweight mixed martial artists
- American female mixed martial artists
- Mixed martial artists utilizing judo
- Medalists at the 2011 Pan American Games
- Medalists at the 2015 Pan American Games
- 21st-century American women