It’s no secret that UFC bantamweight and featherweight champion Amanda Nunes is beginning to run out of viable opponents. And that’s why Kayla Harrison is such an attractive prospect for the UFC.
A former Olympic judoka and current PFL lightweight champion, Kayla Harrison is 9-0 in MMA. And it looks like she could be heading to the UFC in the near future.
Harrison’s PFL contract expires at the end of the promotion’s current season. She has already laughed off Dana White’s assertion that she may not be ready for the competition the UFC provides.
If anything, she could be the fresh challenger that Amanda Nunes has been waiting for, particularly at 145lbs.
So with that in mind, here are five possible opponents for Kayla Harrison should she join the UFC.
#1 UFC featherweight champion Amanda Nunes
For many fans, the obvious course of action for the UFC to take should they sign Kayla Harrison would be to match her with Amanda Nunes immediately.
Nunes is the reigning UFC featherweight and bantamweight champion, but she has a dearth of contenders right now, particularly in the heavier weight class.
The UFC doesn’t tend to put an octagon debutant directly into a title fight. The promotion usually prefers to give them at least one fight to establish themselves in the promotion first.
However, Harrison might be the exception to that rule purely because she wouldn’t be jumping ahead of anyone in the queue to fight Nunes.
In fact, she may well prove to be one of Nunes’ trickier tests. Her world-class judo game and powerful physique would mean that the Lioness wouldn’t be able to easily overpower her as she’s done to the majority of her other opponents.
Sure, this fight might not draw hugely on pay-per-view as casual fans might not recognize Harrison. But from a sporting perspective, it’d be perfect.
#2 Holly Holm
Thanks to her legendary knockout of Ronda Rousey at UFC 193, Holly Holm will always be renowned as one of the UFC’s biggest female stars.
However, The Preacher’s Daughter failed to regain her title when she lost to Amanda Nunes at UFC 239. Holm has, in fact, now lost three UFC title bouts in a row.
And so, despite currently being on a two-fight winning streak, that’s put Holm in a tricky spot. She’s no longer a truly viable title contender but is simply too big of a name to waste on undercards.
That’s why she might be the perfect UFC debut fight for Kayla Harrison should the PFL champ sign with the promotion.
Holm’s expert striking game and stout takedown defense would test the world-class grappling of the former Olympian. Additionally, the UFC could easily sell the fight as a main event for a Fight Night card or a pay-per-view co-main event.
And should Harrison defeat Holm, she’d instantly be propelled to stardom. The former will be perfectly positioned to face off against Nunes for the UFC featherweight title.
#3 Germaine de Randamie
The UFC’s inaugural featherweight champion, there’s probably an argument to be made that Germaine de Randamie is one of the most underrated UFC fighters of all time.
The Iron Lady holds wins over the likes of Holly Holm, Aspen Ladd, Julianna Pena and Raquel Pennington. The only opponent to beat her in the UFC was Amanda Nunes.
However, if the UFC wanted to hand Kayla Harrison a good stylistic fight for her UFC debut, then they couldn’t go wrong with matching her with the Dutch fighter.
Sure, de Randamie is a fantastic striker who carries power in all of her punches, knees and kicks. But she’s not necessarily a knockout artist. On the ground, her skills still leave a little to be desired.
Nunes simply dominated de Randamie on the ground in their second fight. Theoretically, at least, a top-notch grappler like Harrison should be able to deliver a similar kind of gameplan against the Dutch star.
And while de Randamie isn’t a fan favorite, a win over her would still carry plenty of weight with the UFC brass and would definitely set her up for a UFC title shot.
#4 Megan Anderson
Officially at least, Megan Anderson is no longer part of the UFC roster. She was cut following her unsuccessful attempt at dethroning Amanda Nunes at UFC 259.
However, at the time of writing, Anderson has not joined a new promotion. And so it’d be easy for the UFC brass to bring her back for a fight with Kayla Harrison.
And in a lot of ways, this fight could make a lot of sense.
It would undoubtedly be a major clash of styles. Anderson is a highly dangerous kickboxer with a developing ground game. On the other hand, Harrison obviously is a world-class grappler who has only just begun to develop in striking.
However, Anderson’s name does carry some clout in the featherweight division. Not only was she the former Invicta champion at 145lbs, but she obviously managed to net herself a UFC title shot too.
Harrison will probably be confident of winning against the Australian due to Anderson’s limited ground game. But that would not stop this from being a fun match for the UFC to make.
#5 Yana Kunitskaya
Currently ranked as #5 in the UFC’s bantamweight division, Yana Kunitskaya might be another viable option to welcome Kayla Harrison into the UFC.
Foxy has fought at 145lbs before – in her UFC debut, in fact, a loss to then-UFC featherweight champ Cris Cyborg. And while she hasn’t fought at the heavier weight in a while, it’s clear that she is one of the bigger fighters in the UFC at 135lbs.
Kunitskaya isn’t a big-name fighter just yet. But she’s on a solid run of four wins in five fights and recently defeated highly-rated grappler Ketlen Vieira.
Her kickboxing and clinch game would definitely provide a test for Harrison. However, it’d be a test the Olympic judoka would be expected to pass. This would mean the UFC would probably like to make the fight to build up Harrison for a fight against Amanda Nunes.