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Kayla Harrison sets MMA debut fight after post-Olympic depression

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Double Olympic judo champion Kayla Harrison will make her MMA debut on June 21 at a Professional Fighters League (PFL) event in Chicago.

The fight, against an opponent Harrison chose not to publicly reveal Monday, will be 20 months since Harrison first announced she joined the promotion and would maybe fight.

“I’ve been waiting for a long time to fight,” Harrison, 27, said on the MMA Hour on Monday. “First, it was more me. I just wanted to get my feet wet, get in there, see if I liked getting punched in the face. Now that I’ve established that I do, we’ve sort of been waiting for the PFL to get their stuff together. So, their stuff is together.”

Harrison said her first two planned opponents for the 145-pound fight (27 pounds fewer than her Olympic weight) pulled out for reasons unknown to her.

“I don’t care who I fight,” said Harrison, the only U.S. Olympic judo champion, who hopes to fight three times this year. “It’s tough because I’m 0-0 in MMA. So it’s not like I’m going to fight someone who’s 10-0. But I think it’s difficult when you have two Olympic gold medals behind your name. Like people are kind of like, are you really an amateur?”

Harrison also said Monday that she was “very depressed” after the Rio Olympics, knowing she was done with judo, not setting a morning alarm or working out and “laying in bed all day” watching TV.

“I was a little bit lost in my life,” she said. “That high is so high that when you come off of that, it’s like your low. You don’t know what to do with yourself.”

Her coaches, Jimmy Pedro and Jim Pedro Sr., were against Harrison filling that void with MMA.

“Even if I was a millionaire or independently wealthy and I had no worries and I didn’t have to work, I would still be doing what I’m doing,” Harrison said. “I think at the beginning I was kind of like skittish about it. It’s tough, too, because everyone is always like, well look at Ronda [Rousey], you always have the comparisons. It’s so different from the judo world, but I’m kind of loving it. I’m kind of starting to become my own person in MMA, if that makes sense. In judo, I always had certain expectations. Everyone is sort of like, this is Kayla. This is the golden girl. This is the poster child, and so I always felt like that’s who I had to be. But in MMA, no one really knows me. Nobody cares about judo.”

In October 2016, Harrison announced she joined MMA promotion World Series of Fighting (now PFL) as a commentator, brand ambassador and potentially a fighter. But she wasn’t 100 percent committed to competing at the time.

“All signs point to a yes, but everything has to work out,” Harrison said then.

Then in June 2017, Harrison said she would fight starting in 2018. The debut was pushed from February to June.

Harrison had been asked time and again for years about her interest in pursuing MMA. That’s in part because of former training partner Rousey’s overwhelming success after she switched from Olympic judo to MMA.

Harrison took boxing and jiu-jitsu lessons as far back as 2013, which should boost her MMA potential. Since Rio, she’s trained in New Jersey, Las Vegas and now Florida.

Harrison previously said that to compete in MMA she will require a weight cut from her Olympic judo class of 172 pounds.

Rousey competed at 135 pounds, the heaviest women’s weight class in UFC at the time. UFC added a 145-pound division last year. Harrison said in 2016 that if she fought, it would probably be at 145 pounds.

PFL, which had no women’s weight class when Harrison signed up, planned to develop a women’s program as Harrison readied for a potential debut. Harrison said Sunday that PFL’s plan is to have a full women’s division in 2019.

“I want to be the best, undisputed,” Harrison said. “I want everyone to say, oh, who’s the best MMA fighter in the world? Oh, that’s Kayla Harrison.”

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MORE: Rousey: UFC return just as likely as Olympic return

2018 U.S. Gymnastics Championships results

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Results from the 2018 U.S. Gymnastics Championships in Boston …

Senior Women
All-around

  1. Simone Biles — 119.850
  2. Morgan Hurd — 113.300
  3. Riley McCusker — 112.750
  4. Grace McCallum — 111.650
  5. Shilese Jones — 109.850
  6. Jade Carey — 109.700
  7. Kara Eaker — 109.650
  8. Trinity Thomas — 109.600
  9. Alyona Shchennikova — 108.100
  10. Ragan Smith — 107.200
  11. Jordan Chiles — 106.850
  12. Shania Adams — 105.900
  13. Margzetta Frazier — 105.650
  14. Audrey Davis — 104.550
  15. Maddie Johnston — 102.250
  16. Sloane Blakely — 101.700
  17. Luisa Blanco — 101.000
  18. Olivia Dunne — 98.750

Vault

  1. Simone Biles — 31.125
  2. Shilese Jones — 29.050
  3. Grace McCallum — 29.000
  4. Morgan Hurd — 28.800
  5. Jordan Chiles — 28.750

Uneven bars

  1. Simone Biles — 29.400
  2. Riley McCusker — 29.300
  3. Morgan Hurd — 29.150
  4. Trinity Thomas — 27.900
  5. Alyona Shchennikova — 27.750

Balance beam

  1. Simone Biles — 30.100
  2. Kara Eaker — 28.650
  3. Riley McCusker — 28.500
  4. Morgan Hurd — 27.650
  5. Grace McCallum — 27.500

Floor exercise

  1. Simone Biles — 29.150
  2. Jade Carey — 28.300
  3. Morgan Hurd — 27.700
  4. Grace McCallum — 27.600
  5. Kara Eaker — 26.950

Senior Men
All-around

  1. Sam Mikulak — 172.900
  2. Yul Moldauer –168.150
  3. Allan Bower — 166.950
  4. Donothan Bailey — 166.800
  5. Alec Yoder — 166.550
  6. Akash Modi — 165.550
  7. Cameron Bock — 163.200
  8. Colin VanWicklen — 163.050
  9. Genki Suzuki — 162.800
  10. Kanji Oyama — 162.150
  11. Sean Melton — 161.300
  12. Robert Neff — 161.050
  13. Trevor Howard — 160.550
  14. Grant Breckenridge — 159.950
  15. Kiwan Watts — 159.500
  16. Tanner Justus — 158.650
  17. Anthony Stephenson — 158.300
  18. Alexei Vernyi — 157.800
  19. Shane Wiskus — 157.750
  20. Gage Dyer — 157.650
  21. Jacob Moore — 157.450
  22. Bennet Huang — 156.500
  23. Seth Delbridge — 153.500
  24. Jake Brodarzon — 150.600
  25. Kyte Crigger — 148.350
  26. Jalon Stephens — 109.850

Floor exercise

  1. Sam Mikulak — 29.100
  2. Yul Moldauer — 28.750
  3. Kanji Oyama — 28.650
  4. Allan Bower — 28.350
  5. Akash Modi — 28.300

Pommel horse

  1. Alec Yoder — 29.850
  2. Allan Bower — 29.200
  3. Ellis Mannon — 28.850
  4. Sam Mikulak — 28.600
  5. Donothan Bailey — 28.050

Still rings

  1. Trevor Howard — 29.200
  2. Alex Diab — 28.950
  3. Yul Moldauer — 28.650
  4. Sam Mikulak — 28.600
  5. Donnell Whittenburg — 28.550

Vault

  1. Anthony Stephenson — 29.550
  2. Yul Moldauer — 29.150
  3. Colin VanWicklen — 28.900
  4. Sean Melton — 28.700
  5. Donothan Bailey — 28.650

Parallel bars

  1. Sam Mikulak — 29.550
  2. Donothan Bailey — 28.350
  3. Yul Moldauer — 28.100
  4. Alec Yoder — 27.950
  5. Trevor Howard — 27.800

Horizontal bar

  1. Sam Mikulak — 28.400
  2. Donothan Bailey — 27.550
  3. Colin VanWicklen — 27.000
  4. Genki Suzuki — 26.950
  5. Akash Modi — 26.850

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GYM NATIONALS: Where Are The Final Five?

Sun Yang requests second national anthem after flags fall in Asian Games medal ceremony

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JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Sun Yang thought he’d seen it all in his glittering swimming career. That was until Sunday’s opening night of swimming finals at the Asian Games.

In an embarrassing technical blunder for games organizers, the flag hoist collapsed during the playing of the Chinese national anthem as Sun stood atop the podium after winning the 200m freestyle. Video is here.

Officials picked the flags up off the pool deck and hastily reattached them to the broken metal hoist but were unable to raise them again while the anthem was played for a second time, to the bemusement of Sun and spectators watching in the stands.

Diplomatically, Sun played down the incident when quizzed by reporters, saying he was just relieved to finally win the 200m free title which had eluded him in the two previous editions of the Asian Games.

Even though he is the reigning Olympic and world champion, Sun had never won the four-lap race at the Asian games, finishing runner-up to South Korea’s Park Tae-hwan in 2010 and second again to Japan’s Kosuke Hagino four years ago.

“I’ve waited eight years for this title,” Sun said. “It also gives me a golden grand slam of Olympic, world and Asian titles. It’s a perfect result, a dream. It’s unbelievable.”

Officials held the flags up in their hands for the subsequent medal ceremony before locating a replacement hoist for the remaining presentations. By the end of the night, China edged Japan 4-3 in the first seven finals decided.

Sun, who is trying to win the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m frees in Jakarta, cruised to victory in one minute 45.43 seconds.

He was outside his best, but with a busy program the 26-year-old did enough to win comfortably and celebrated in animated fashion, clenching his fists and punching the air in delight.

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