RIO DE JANEIRO -- Everybody wants to know if Kayla Harrison will fight mixed martial arts after winning her second Olympic gold medal in judo, and her initial response might disappoint the fans.
Harrison announced her retirement from judo after winning four matches by ippon in Rio de Janeiro, but won’t make a final decision about fighting MMA just yet. The American judoka, who turned 26 years old in July, sees some differences between the sports as an important factor.
"It’s just so different from (judo), right? Like, it’s such a different atmosphere from the Olympic stage," Harrison said in a press conference in Rio. "I did get booed today, so maybe I’ll be a little okay with it, but after the match you shake the person’s hand, you give them a hug. You bow to them to show respect, and in MMA it’s not like that.
"And I don’t know if I’m cut out for a world that you get fights based on how pretty you are and how much you talk, and not necessarily what you’re worth in the ring," she continued. "So, for me, right now, I’m just gonna be focused on being a two-time Olympic champion and enjoying the moment, and living the moment. Never say never, but right now the answer is no to MMA."
Before the Olympics, Harrison told SB Nation that she has received offers from multiple MMA promotions, but none had impressed her manager. Not ready to close the door on mixed martial arts yet, the two-time Olympic champion will weigh the pros and cons before deciding her next move.
"You know, I’m gonna have to talk," said Harrison, who didn’t say whether the UFC offered her a deal. "Not tonight, maybe not for a while. But I’m gonna have to talk to Jimmy (Pedro), I’m gonna have to talk to my manager and see what offers are out there, see what it is and what I’m gonna do."
Money and fame are important, Harrison admits, but so is winning gold at the Olympics -- twice.
"Who doesn’t wanna be rich and famous at some point in their life?" Harrison said. "But I also see the platform, I see how many eyes watch MMA and how much reach I could have with something like that. It is tempting, but then, again, I just won an Olympic gold medal in the biggest stage in the world, so are there gonna be more eyes on me there or right now?"