Why the next star of women's MMA won't suffer the same cataclysmic downfall as her old training partner, Ronda Rousey
- Kayla Harrison, an emerging star of women's mixed martial arts, has oft been compared to her former judo training partner Ronda Rousey.
- But the former UFC heavyweight champion and current PFL color analyst Randy Couture has told Business Insider there is one clear difference.
- At the height of Rousey's fame and career, she took questionable coaching advice and ended up being stunned and conclusively knocked out by Holly Holm in 2016.
- Couture said this is something Harrison will easily avoid as she will play to her strengths and would never fight her opponent's fight.
- Harrison fights in the PFL playoffs in Las Vegas on Friday and, with victory, advances to the PFL Championships on December 31, where a $1 million paycheck is at stake.
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Kayla Harrison is an emerging star of women's mixed martial arts (MMA) but won't suffer the same cataclysmic downfall as her old training partner Ronda Rousey.
That is according to the former UFC heavyweight champion and Professional Fighters League (PFL) color analyst Randy Couture."Ronda was very caught up in the hype," Couture told Business Insider. This won't happen to Harrison, he said, because she will refuse to fight her opponent's fight and instead focus on her strengths.
As a sixth-degree black belt in judo and a two-time Olympic gold medalist, those strengths are clear. And she will look to utilize those in the sixth fight of her MMA career at the PFL 7 show in Las Vegas on October 11.
Harrison was originally scheduled to face striker Genah Fabian. However, she faces a late replacement opponent, Bobbi-Jo Dalziel, after Fabian was pulled from the bout on Thursday because of a medical issue.
Dalziel, who has a kickboxing base style, poses another striking threat, and Couture is curious how Harrison handles being hit hard.
"Nobody's really come out and stunned Kayla with a really good shot yet, and it will be really interesting to see how she deals with that adversity and absorbs that adversity and responds," he said. "I think she'll respond … it will trip her trigger like it does a lot of us that are in this fight game."
But Harrison won't make the same mistake as Rousey once did
As a former judo player and training partner of Ronda Rousey, there have been comparisons to the former UFC champion.Rousey, Harrison previously told Business Insider, was wildly dominant through much of her MMA career, having defended the UFC women's bantamweight title six times before losing to Holly Holm in 2015, then Amanda Nunes in 2016.
Both fights were heavy stoppage losses. The defeat to Holm stunned the combat sports industry as it brought to an end Rousey's winning run, ushering in a new champion. The defeat to Nunes finished Rousey's career.
In the years since Rousey's losses, Harrison emerged and has been hailed as the new Rousey. But Couture told us there are clear differences between the two.
"The difference is Ronda was very caught up in the hype," he said. "Caught up in what her coach [Edmond Tarverdyan] was telling her."
Before the Holm fight at UFC 193 in Melbourne, Australia, Rousey had knocked out Bethe Correira. "Coming off a knockout victory gave her a false sense of security in her ability to stand and strike with a world-class striker in Holly Holm.
"I don't see any of that in Kayla … Kayla knows where her strengths are," Couture said, adding Harrison will fight her fight, not her opponent's - something Rousey did and lost. "That's the difference.""I believe Ronda was poorly coached," Couture added. "It gave her great kudos to her striking coach if she goes and knocks somebody out. And that's not what put her in the position she was in. It was going out and taking people down and submitting them. That's made her what she was.
"She strayed away from that. She let somebody talk her into striking and didn't give Holly Holm the credit that Holly Holm deserved as a multi-time world champion in striking in combative sports.
"I think if Ronda went out with the proper mentality and made Holly fight Ronda's fight, it would have been a different outcome. I don't see Kayla Harrison falling into that trap."
'F--- perfection, be effective'
Harrison recently told Business Insider about four words of advice she got from Couture earlier this year that have stayed with her today.
As a perfectionist, Harrison wanted to be as good at striking as she was at grappling. But backstage after one fight, even though she had won, she was angry. She felt like her striking was letting her down.
But then Couture told her four words - "f--- perfection, be effective."
"I remember the discussion," Couture told us. "She was being very critical of herself. I get she's a perfectionist and strives for perfection but my comment to her was, 'F--- perfection, be effective.'
"I admire the hunger and passion that she has for being the best at this and learning all the other skills that can go with that judo gold medal."She's willing to do the work, put herself out there, and that's what shows. That's why she's 5-0, and it's been fun to watch. If she keeps that perfection mindset in check, she'll be very effective and difficult to stop."
Should Harrison defeat Dalziel at the PFL 7 show in Las Vegas on October 11, she'll fight for a $1 million paycheck in the final PFL Championship show in New York on Tuesday, December 31.
If the two favorites in each women's lightweight semifinal this weekend triumph, then it creates one of the most anticipated women's fights of the year - Harrison, the PFL poster-girl, against Sarah Kaufman, a former Strikeforce women's champion and PFL's current number one seed in the competition.
"It will be huge for the PFL," Couture said. "They brought this women's division in solely for that hopeful eventuality that those two would make the final … it would be absolutely huge for the sport of mixed martial arts."