Kayla Harrison will fight a veteran opponent at PFL 6 next month, but it won’t be former Bellator women’s featherweight champ Julia Budd.
On Thursday, ESPN was first to report that Budd was out of her fight with Harrison, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in judo. The match-up on paper had looked to be the biggest test of Harrison’s career, which has seen her go a perfect 13-0 since her debut in 2018.
Budd’s withdrawal comes about as the result of an undisclosed injury. In her place steps Kaitlin Young (12-12-1), a trailblazer among female fighters who competed for EliteXC and Invicta FC before retiring in 2014.
After a stint as Invicta’s matchmaker, Young returned to the cage in 2018, going 3-1 through her first four fights with Invicta and then the PFL. However, she’s lost her last two, including her season opener against Budd this year.
The loss of Harrison vs. Budd brings back memories of the PFL’s 2019 season, which saw former Strikeforce and Invicta FC bantamweight champion Sarah Kaufman part of the field. Kaufman was eliminated from the tournament in the semifinals, and the highly anticipated match-up between herself and Harrison never came to pass.
Young remains a battle-tested veteran, but she lacks the championship pedigree that Budd brought to the anticipated match-up. Budd could still make the post-season, as she was awarded three points due to Genah Fabian missing weight for their fight earlier this year — but some key names will need to lose next month.
PFL 6 takes place July 1, 2022 at the Overtime Elite Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.