Where Will Kayla Harrison Go Now That She’s a Free Agent?

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Amanda Nunes UFC 259
Amanda Nunes Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

1. UFC

As the biggest and most obvious destination, being a part of the UFC has changed the lives and careers of many fighters.  The credibility and fame that comes with being a contender in the world’s biggest promotion is hard to quantify as fighters such as Corey Anderson have parlayed successful UFC runs into lucrative contracts outside the company despite having never held world titles.  When discussing the UFC compared to any other promotion, one must acknowledge the power of being a part of a major UFC card.  The UFC is the only promotion in the world whose stacked cards become cultural events that not only become the leading story in sports but often a crossover affair that is discussed outside the realm of athletics.  The exposure that comes with being featured on such an event comes with a value that can’t be boiled down to a few lines in any contract.

For Harrison, one must discuss the competition.  She would be competing at featherweight where the UFC has not shown much interest in signing new talent.  Outside of Felicia Spencer, Danyelle Wolf, and Cris Cyborg (no longer with the company,) the women who have fought at featherweight in the UFC are all primarily considered bantamweights.  If Harrison is seeking a deep roster featuring elite featherweight talent, the UFC as of this writing does not have it.

That said, there are two major factors.  The UFC does have the consensus number one female fighter in the world in Amanda Nunes. Harrison and Nunes are longtime teammates at American Top Team and the two have frequently quelled talk of a potential match.  A a fight between the two could be lucrative enough that they put aside their friendship for a night to collide in the Octagon.  If not, and Nunes potentially chooses to stay at her optimal weight class at bantamweight, then Harrison would still get to showcase her talents under the bright lights of the UFC against the fighters they make available.

The main question: how much will the UFC offer her?  While the ceiling to make money outside the cage is high for a UFC star, it also puts a lot of onus on the fighter and their management to secure such deals.  A fighter who brings the talent and attention that Harrison does will be looking for a great contract with guaranteed money up front.  Will it be a golden million dollar paycheck per fight?  Likely not.  If it is high enough that she earns a respectable amount in a reasonable time span, then it may be more than enough to end any conversation with another promotion quickly.

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