Double Olympic Gold Medalist Follows Rhonda Rousey into Mixed Martial Arts Arena
Double Olympic judo gold medallist Kayla Harrison has signed a contract with World Series of Fighting (WSOF) which would see the American begin to make the transition to mixed martial arts (MMA). Harrison has reportedly signed a deal which will see her act as a commentator and brand ambassador for WSOF. The 26-year-old is eventually expected to compete in MMA after honing her preparations in the coming months.
“I’ve been boxing and doing jiu-jitsu and all that, and the biggest thing for me, really, is that I miss competing,” Harrison told USA Today. I miss fighting on the highest stages of the world, and the World Series of Fighting really gave me a great opportunity. I’m excited for this new chapter. I’m excited to commentate. I’m excited to be a brand ambassador and help the World Series of Fighting grow their organisation as well as help me grow myself as a fighter and a brand myself.”
Harrison emerged as an American star in judo when she claimed the Olympic gold medal in the women’s under 78 kilograms event at London 2012 before retaining her title at Rio 2016. After her triumph in August, Harrison announced her retirement from the sport and prompted speculation that she could follow her former team-mate Ronda Rousey, a 2008 Olympic judo bronze medallist, into MMA. Rousey has emerged as one of the star names of the Ultimate Fighting Championship since making her transition to the sport.
Harrison’s move to MMA could provoke concerns for judo, with International Judo Federation (IJF) President Marius Vizer warning in 2014 that a migration of judokas to other sports would represent a “spiritual contamination” of the sport.
A similar deal which would have seen the UFC sponsor the 2015 European Judo Championships led to Glasgow being stripped of hosting rights for the event, with the European Judo Union claiming the sponsorship did not meet their “values”.