UFC 300 takeaways: Kayla Harrison dominant in UFC debut, submits Holly Holm

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UFC 300 takeaways: Kayla Harrison dominant in UFC debut, submits Holly Holm

Kayla Harrison has been hyped for years as arguably the greatest women’s fighter outside of the UFC, and she proved Saturday night at UFC 300 that she may now be the most feared women’s fighter within the UFC.

Harrison defeated former women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm in her UFC debut, submitting Holm with a rear-naked choke in the second round.

The choke is Harrison’s seventh career submission win. Prior to the UFC, Harrison compiled a 16-1 record in the Professional Fighter’s League, winning the PFL’s women’s lightweight tournaments in 2019, 2021 and 2022.

In the PFL, Harrison exclusively fought at lightweight (155 pounds), but the heaviest women’s division in the UFC is bantamweight (135 pounds). Any questions about how the 5-foot-8 Harrison would handle the weight cut were answered Saturday, as Harrison looked dominant in her bantamweight debut.

She looked strong stand-up exchanges with Holm, a former world champion boxer, and executed multiple trip throws to get Holm to the ground. In the first round, that led to multiple minutes of heavy ground-and-pound, with Holm on the receiving end of heavy punches and elbows as she was pressed against the fence.

In the first minute of the second round, Harrison hit Holm with a headkick then shot a double leg takedown, nearly sinking in a submission before tripping Holm down for another takedown. Less than a minute later, Harrison had Holm’s back and was sinking in a rear-naked choke for the win.

Before her first MMA fight in 2018, Harrison built a career as one of the most dominant judokas of all time. She won Olympic gold medals in judo in 2012 and 2016, was a three-time IJF Grand Slam Tournament champion and was elected to the United States Judo Federation Hall Of Fame.

After her 2016 Olympic gold, Harrison was promoted to rokudan (sixth degree black belt) making her the youngest person in the U.S. to ever be awarded this rank.

Harrison found her way into MMA by becoming a training partner of Ronda Rousey, who was a fellow judoka champion. Rousey’s legendary title reign in the UFC was famously headkicked into oblivion by Holm in 2015.

This story will be updated with more results throughout the event.

Follow along The Athletic’s live coverage of UFC 300 here.

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(Photo: Jeff Bottari / Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)