Kayla Harrison is an Olympic gold medalist who has taken the MMA world by storm. She’s just 25 years old, but she has already accomplished so much in her career. After winning a gold medal for judo at the 2012 Olympics in London, Kayla retired from competitive judo and transitioned to mixed martial arts (MMA). In 2016, she became the first American woman to win a major MMA championship belt when she won PFL Lightweight World Championship title against all odds.
And now with Ronda Rousey taking time off after losing two bouts in a row, Kayla could be poised to become the next big female star of women’s MMA and that means more opportunities for sponsorship deals and appearances on TV shows. So, what’s next for one of the biggest rising stars in MMA?
Kayla recently spoke with us about her career and how she got started in judo, here is what she had to say
I love Japan. I love Japanese food, culture, the people. I love everything about it and I go there as much as I can. In fact, I have been going to Japan almost every year since 2009.
In 2014, I have visited Tokyo for the first time during my MMA career. In 2016, I went back again to speak at a martial arts seminar in Osaka and later that year competed in my first ever jiujitsu competition in Japan. This year I have traveled to Tokyo for a series of media appearances, and will be going back again at the end of this month where I will be meeting fans at an event.
I am not a big fan of traveling, but when it comes to Japan I look forward to each trip because there is so much to see and experience!
Since February I have been training at the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas, NV under Coach Edmond Tarverdyan of the Glendale Fighting Club. At first I was skeptical about joining a gym with so many fighters because there are certain aspects of training that you just can’t replicate outside of practice. However, after spending time at the UFC PI I have experienced tremendous benefits from working alongside athletes who share the same passion that I do.
I have been working hard to improve my health, skills and overall MMA game with Coach Edmond. Fighting is still a few years away so it has given me the opportunity to take my time transitioning into this sport while receiving the coaching and training necessary to excel.
I am excited for what’s next and I look forward to seeing my fans in Tokyo at the end of this month!