Former PFL champion Kayla Harrison makes her UFC debut against ex-UFC champ Holly Holm on the UFC … [+] 300 fight card. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

One of the more anticipated fights on the UFC 300 card is the matchup between former UFC bantamweight champion Holly Holm and ex-PFL titleholder Kayla Harrison, who makes her promotional debut at UFC 300. The bantamweight scrap takes place on the ESPN prelims of the fight card. Today, we take a deep dive into the fight, which has the potential to launch the victor into a UFC women’s bantamweight title fight against current 135-pound champion Raquel Pennington.

UFC 300 takes place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on April 13. The stacked card features two UFC title fights and a BMF title bout on the ESPN+ pay-per-view portion of the event.

Careers

Holly Holm

Holly Holm had a long and successful professional boxing career before moving to full-time MMA in the middle of 2013 when she was 31. Holm was 7-0 in MMA and had won the Legacy FC women’s bantamweight title when she made her UFC debut in February 2015. Holm won that fight, defeating Raquel Pennington by split decision in the co-main event of the UFC 184 pay-per-view card.

A win over Marion Reneau in July 2015 secured Holm a title shot against Ronda Rousey, who was 12-0 at the time. The scrap headlined UFC 193. Rousey entered that contest as a massive – betting favorite. Meanwhile, Holm was a substantial +700 betting underdog. Holm shocked the MMA world that night, knocking out Rousey with a head kick in the second round.

Holm’s title reign was short. She lost the belt in her first attempted defense, dropping a technical submission to Miesha Tate in March 2016.

Holm has had three title fights since losing to Tate. She has lost each of those bouts. She dropped a decision to Germaine de Randamie for the inaugural UFC Women’s Featherweight Championship in February 2017. Then, in December 2017, Cris Cyborg defeated Holm for the vacant 145-pound belt. Holm’s next title fight was a July 2019 TKO loss to Amanda Nunes for the 135-pound strap.

Holm was 10-0 after she defeated Rousey. Today, the 42-year-old is 15-6-0-1 with eight knockout wins and seven victories by decision. Holm’s losses have been by knockout (one), submission (one), and decision (four). The ex-champ is coming off a no contest in her July 2023 matchup against Mayra Bueno Silva. Silva originally won that bout via submission, but the fight was ruled a no contest after Silva failed a drug test for ritalinic acid, which was tied to her ADHD medication.

Holm is currently the No. 5 fighter in the official UFC women’s bantamweight rankings.

Kayla Harrison

A two-time Olympic gold medal winner in judo (2012 and 2016), Kayla Harrison made her MMA debut in the 155-pound division with PFL in 2018. Harrison ran over her first six opponents, picking up three submissions, two knockouts, and a decision before winning the women’s lightweight title by defeating Larissa Pacheco by decision.

In November 2020, Harrison defeated Courtney King by TKO in a 145-pound scrap. Shen then moved back to 155 pounds. In 2021, Harrison won the PFL 155-pound tournament with a submission win over Taylor Guardado.

By 2022, Harrison had amassed a 15-0 record. However, her unbeaten ended in the finals of the 2022 PFL lightweight tourney when Pacheco scored a unanimous decision win over Harrison. The ex-champ fought once more for the PFL, beating former UFC fighter Aspen Ladd via decision in November 2023 in a 150-pound catchweight fight.

In January 2024, the UFC announced it had signed Harrison and that her promotional debut would take place in the 135-pound weight class.

Harrison has a career record of 16-1. Her victories have come by knockout (six), submission (six), and decision (four). Her only loss was a decision.

UFC 300 Betting Odds for Holly Holm vs. Kayla Harrison

Harrison is one of the most significant betting favorites on the UFC 300 card. She opened as a -310 favorite, but that has climbed to -500 in the days leading up to UFC 300. Meanwhile, Holm opened as the +250 betting underdog. The former UFC champ is currently listed at +330.

One Big Concern

If there is one thing to watch ahead of the Holm vs. Harrison matchup at UFC 300, it is the fact that the 33-year-old Harrison has never fought under 145 pounds.

In January, Harrison said, “I wouldn’t have made the move if I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it. We did a test cut. Everything was measured, from my heart rate to my blood pressure to my blood sugar. We did a test recovery. We did a test simulated fight. Everything has been dialed in and everything has been tested.

“I’m really confident in my team, and I’m really confident in myself. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but the things in life that are worth having are usually not easy [to obtain].”

Potential Title Fight

UFC women’s bantamweight champion Raquel Pennington was not happy about the idea of Harrison potentially getting a title fight with a win over Holm at UFC 300.

“In my mind, it’s Julianna Peña,” Pennington told LowKick MMA of her first title defense. “That’s what me and my team are preparing for, and it makes sense. It’s tough because the UFC does business how they want to do business. Obviously, you have Kayla Harrison, who just signed to the UFC. They do have a habit of when someone has a big name, they like to fast-track them. So I wouldn’t be surprised after UFC 300 next month if Kayla wins, if a phone call is a lot different after that fight.

“But we’ll see. For me, I think it’s Julianna. Just from having to grind from the bottom up, never being handed anything, there’s a lot of women in this division who have been busting their ass for years upon years, and they’re wanting opportunities. I do not find it fair. I get the business aspect of it. But I do not find it fair when an athlete comes in and just because they have a big name, they get to skip the line. I’m not opposed to fighting anybody, like scared of anybody. I love the challenges out there.”

UFC CEO Dana White expects UFC 300 to break “every record at the T-Mobile Arena.”

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