Kayla Harrison is the only woman from the United States to capture two Olympic gold medals in the sport of judo. Harrison has also trained with former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey, who suffered a harrowing defeat to Amanda Nunes at UFC 207, one that Harrison believes should motivate Rousey to make some changes to her inner circle.
“I think she has a lot of people maybe around her that don’t necessarily have Ronda’s best interest at heart,” Harrison told TMZ. “I think she needs to take a good, hard look at that and maybe go back to day one, maybe go back to her family, maybe go back to her original coaches who helped her be successful, and say, ‘okay, I really know these people do care about me. Not as a fighter, not as a money-making machine, not as an actress, not as a celebrity. But as Ronda.’ She just needs to know that the people who truly care about her are going to be there no matter what happens. I mean, God forbid I ever lose or if I had lost the Olympics, I think the people who love me would still love me whether I would have won or lost. And she should know that. I think she needs to be surrounded by those people at this time. I think she really needs to do some soul searching. I think she needs to figure out what it is that she wants to do in her life, and she wants to accomplish, and what really makes Ronda happy.”
While Rousey’s future is uncertain at this time, Harrison believes that we will be seeing the former champion back in the octagon at some point.
“I really expected her to come back with a vengeance and to come back bigger and better than ever,” Harrison said. “But I’m not with her now, so I don’t know what her training has been like, where her mind was at. When I talked to her a couple of weeks ago, she seemed good about it, but I think one thing I would have done differently is not have her fight for the title right away, you know? She probably should have had a match before that match, just to kind of get back in the swing of things. The thing about judo and when we used to fight, is like, I might lose at the Paris Grand Slam, but a month later I’m going to be fighting at the Hungary Grand Prix so I’m always in it, I’m always training. I’m always looking for that next fight. I don’t have a year to think about that loss, or to think about how bad that felt or to psych myself out to get back in the cage, or in my case, back onto the mat. So I think she should have gotten, I don’t want to call it a warm up fight, but she should have sort of eased back into it, versus jumping into a title fight like that.”
Harrison has yet to make her professional MMA debut, but she did do color commentary at the World Series Of Fighting 34 event in New York City.