Two-time Olympic gold medalist Kayla Harrison captured the mixed martial arts world after her first fight in June of 2018. The judo legend went on to win her next two fights in the Professional Fighter’s League. I watched all three of her fights, noticing that there was something unique about this talented athlete. The energy of the arena shifted when she walked into the octagon and fans immediately stopped what they were doing to focus on her.
Harrison’s magnetism and bravado was recently demonstrated outside of the cage when she told TMZ Sports that she would beat UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in a judo match. This polarizing statement created a lot of buzz in the MMA community and in the world of sports.
“I think I would beat him in a judo match. For sure. 100%. I would beat Khabib,”Harrison to TMZ Sports
One example of this comes from a post on the SB Nation blog, Bloody Elbow. The post has generated over 170 comments so far, according to Bloody Elbow. In comparison, the next most frequently commented post from May 8 had 40 comments, according to Bloody Elbow. While I feel that Harrison’s rugged, bulldozing fighting style contributes to the number of comments on this post, the dominating factor driving this post’s popularity is that it addresses whether or not women can compete with men on the same playing field.
This question has been answered in other sports such as tennis; but do we really want to find out the answer to this question during a combat sporting event? In my opinion, there is something off-putting about members of the opposite sex striking each other– with the intent to cause bodily harm– during a sporting event. I understand and sympathize with any athlete who wants to test their ability against the best competition in the world and I can see how my viewpoint on this issue could be taken as archaic. However, I would not watch Harrison grapple with Nurmagomedov and I would be against the event from taking place.
With the righteous fight for LGBTQ communities steadily gaining momentum, it will be interesting to see how the MMA world will adjust to the idea of transgender fighters and mixed sex fights. Based on the limited sample size from the comment section on the post from Bloody Elbow, it looks as if MMA fans are not yet ready to accept fighters like Fallon Fox. I personally would not watch a mixed sex fight, but I have no animosity towards anyone who would watch such an event. Additionally, I feel that I need to do more research on the topic of transgender athletes in MMA before I can form a cohesive opinion on the subject.
Harrison is one of those unique athletes who has the ability to compete with any human being on this planet. I think she could do extremely well against Nurmagomedov, but I don’t think this is a question that needs to be answered at this time. I feel that I am not ready to see men versus women in combat sports–particularly prize fighting. I am excited to see what the MMA world will look like in 50 years and I may look back on this article and laugh about how ignorant I was. But for now, I will continue to support Harrison in her pursuit of PFL gold and hope she doesn’t go after the UFC men’s lightweight title any time soon.
Do you feel that Kayla versus Khabib in a judo match would be a positive or negative event for mixed martial arts? Leave a comment and let me know.