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

Julia Budd, Bellator MMA
Julia Budd, Bellator 238 Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

2. PFL

So far, the marriage of Kayla Harrison and the PFL has been a successful one.  Harrison has become a breakout star without the backing of the longstanding pillars of the UFC and Bellator.  The PFL has carved a respectable place in the MMA landscape with her as the unquestioned centerpiece.  Simply: the PFL built Harrison and Harrison brought considerable attention in return to the PFL.

Going into season 4 in 2022, the PFL appears to have put all of their chips into becoming a serious player in the MMA landscape with a focus on keeping Harrison.  For one, it has been reported that they are looking to enter the pay-per-view business in 2022.  Secondly, they have pushed to sign more notable free agents with former longtime Bellator champion Julia Budd joining the company earlier this year.  It is difficult to imagine Harrison and the PFL not making a deal to have her earn a cut of pay-per-view revenue in renegotiations, with a fight against Budd expected to be a headliner in the new year.  Finally, it must be acknowledged that the $1 million grand prize of the tournament remains the largest guaranteed payday she could receive in one night if she wins it all, which respectfully she is heavily favored to do if she re-signs.

The PFL faces two major challenges.  The first is that their lack of events in 2020 left Harrison and the promotion seemingly on the outs with Harrison publicly stating that the promotion was technically in breach of her contract.  Watching Harrison’s interviews since then, it is not difficult to observe that she has not spoken glowingly about the signing of Budd or other moves that seem to have been made in attempts to coerce her to stay.  Secondly, outside of Budd there are no other notable lightweights that have been signed to the company.  One of the biggest criticisms of Harrison in the PFL is that she only has subpar competition available.  While the UFC or other promotions may not have a long list of highly regarded featherweights either, she may decide that she would at least rather fight their athletes with a bigger spotlight rather than stay in the PFL and fight a comparable level of competition.


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