The first ever US Olympic judoka to win a gold medal has signed with Dominance MMA. The move is not a sign that Kayla Harrison will be entering MMA anytime soon though, the Ohio native’s focus will remain solely on the 2016 Olympic games in Rio Di Janeiro, Brazil. MMAWeekly reported the news earlier in the week but it was swept up in whirlwind following UFC 151’s cancellation.
Harrison will only be 26 year old following the 2016 games in Rio, leaving plenty of time for a career in MMA should she decide to enter the sport. Harrison has expanded her training to include work with renowned BJJ trainer Renzo Gracie in addition to her judo training with elite Judo trainer Jimmy Pedro. Pedro has ties to MMA, as he was the trainer – and 2004 Olympic teammate – of Bellator lightweight contender Rick Hawn.
Harrison told Bleacher Report back in July:
“Not sure as of right now. I never say never but I don’t know if the MMA world is ready for me! I’m a bit bigger than Ronda [Rousey], and I’m not quite as flashy. I’m also not an entertainer. I do the sport because I love it, not for money or fame. So to make the transition into MMA would be a big one for me,”
Kayla won gold at 78 kilograms, around 172 pounds, and it is well documented problem of women’s MMA to find depth above 135lbs. So finding worthwhile competition is currently an issue for women above the bantamweight weight class. With women’s MMA – along with women’s Olympic wrestling and judo – growing in popularity, it is possible the upper divisions of WMMA could be more populated by 2016.