Kayla Harrison and Claressa Shields are inclined to acquire linked collectively a lot. Enthusiastic about they both strive in opposition to below the PFL banner and half four Olympic gold medals between them, it’s now not stunning to gaze why. Harrison and Shields even defeated the the same opponent for his or her MMA debuts — Brittney Elkin — even supposing their respective wins were very, very various.
Aid in June 2018, Harrison made her legit debut in opposition to Elkin nearly two years after asserting her intentions to transition from judo to MMA. All that time previous regulation to prepare served her properly — Harrison received in a rout, submitting Elkin with a major-spherical armbar after actual three minutes of action. Shields, on the opposite hand, made her MMA debut this previous June, lower than a 300 and sixty five days after asserting her intentions to transition from boxing to MMA, and struggled mightily. She used to be many cases taken down by Elkin and misplaced the important thing two rounds forward of mounting an exhilarating attain-from-at the serve of victory via TKO within the final physique.
Though Harrison has huge respect for Shields, the worn judoka also is a competitor. And her takeaways from staring at Shields’ MMA debut were precisely what you’d ask from any individual with as decorated of a computer screen file as Harrison’s.
“She has holes,” Harrison acknowledged Wednesday on The MMA Hour. “She has holes.”
“I mediate they were anticipated, [but] I mediate I was surprised a minute of bit. I don’t know. My mentality used to be actual consistently to be as though-provoking as conceivable for no topic inform I acquire myself into. So I was surprised she took the strive in opposition to so mercurial after transitioning to MMA. I anticipated her to prepare for a minute of bit longer. I mediate it’s a extremely tricky job to be boxing and doing MMA at the the same time. I mediate she’s going to must commit a range of time to her grappling sport if she must be one amongst basically the most efficient in MMA, and I don’t mediate she’s going to enjoy time to realize that if she continues to field professionally. In whisper that’s my notion.”
Harrison is, in rather a lot of ways, the face of PFL. Nine of her 10 fights were held below the PFL umbrella and he or she’s already captured one tournament title with her flawless bustle to $1 million all the map via the promotion’s 2d season. No longer actual that, but Harrison now sits two wins far off from notching her 2d $1 million payday — her season three semifinal matchup in opposition to Genah Fabian is determined to headline Thursday’s PFL playoffs occasion.
So even though Shields continues to gain headlines and ESPN segments detailing her every pass, Harrison is extra than cosy to half the spotlight with her fellow Olympian.
“Ought to you acquire bitter about things treasure that, and can enjoy to you mediate, ‘Oh, why now not me? It must always be me. I’ve accomplished this, I’ve accomplished that. Glimpse at me, interrogate at me,’ you form of salvage your eyes off the prize,” Harrison acknowledged. “And I’ve seen it happen limitless cases. I’ve seen warring parties get the mistake. I’ve seen folks in my gymnasium get the mistake of worrying about what any individual else is doing. It’s actual a extinguish of time. I genuinely enjoy a job to realize. I’m now not on SportsCenter, I’m now not at the ESPYs, I’m now not doing all of these loopy things. But I’m within the gymnasium, I’m working annoying, I’m being a factual mom, I’m doing what I treasure spherical folks I acquire pleasure from being spherical. And I’m keeping my head down. And I know that when the time comes and when it’s far my 2d — and my 2d will attain — all people will recount, ‘Wow. Damn. Glimpse at Kayla H.’
“It’s coming. I’m now not in a scurry. Simply things salvage time. This is capable of perhaps well also be there. And also, I’m proud of Claressa. I treasure her as a human being, as a fighter. I mediate that sturdy females develop sturdy females up, and I’d by no plot must salvage far off from anything else she’s accomplished. To me, that’s amazing. The entirety that she’s accomplished is amazing and I genuinely don’t enjoy anything else but respect for her. Her sprint is her sprint, my sprint is mine. We’ll acquire to the establish we acquire to.”
For now, Harrison’s sprint starts and forestalls with Fabian on Thursday. It’s a serious matchup for the 2-time gold medalist in extra ways than one — now not easiest is a location in season three’s finals on the line, but Harrison is nearing the pause of her contemporary PFL contract.
The stakes are straightforward: If Harrison wins her subsequent two fights and turns into a two-time PFL champion, she could perhaps well also stroll into free agency as one amongst basically the most interesting feminine abilities to ever hit the launch market.
“They reached out to (my manager) Ali (Abdelaziz) and acknowledged that they desired to commence negotiations, after which I acknowledged OK. And then they asked me this day now to now not focus on free agency, actual focal level on the strive in opposition to, and I acknowledged, ‘Smartly, OK. But ship me a proposal or all people is conscious of what’s going to happen,’” Harrison acknowledged.
“It’s now not in my hands. My job is to strive in opposition to. That’s it. I know that if I strive in opposition to properly, attain my job, plod out and instill my will, that factual things will happen, wherever they could perhaps be.”
Harrison and Fabian were beforehand scheduled to meet in 2019’s tournament semifinals, however a unhealthy weight lower forced Fabian to withdraw from the bracket.
This time spherical, both females are totally healthy and though-provoking to fight for a location within the finals. And even supposing Fabian is the well-known taller lady, as evidenced by their contemporary pre-strive in opposition to staredown, Harrison refuses to be deterred from carrying out her targets.
“Mammoth trees descend annoying,” Harrison acknowledged. “I’m angry.”