Kayla Harrison huge favorite for another $1 million payday tonight in Florida

Middletown native, two-time Olympic champion adopts niece, nephew ahead of title fight.

As if Kayla Harrison needed more motivation, she now has two more mouths to feed.

Harrison, a Middletown native and two-time Olympic gold medalist in judo, fights in the 155-pound championship bout of the Professional Fighters League tonight in Hollywood, Florida. If she beats Taylor Guardado, 3-1-1, as the overwhelming favorite, Harrison will become a two-time millionaire.

Then she can add that to being called a two-time mother.

Earlier this month, Harrison, 31, adopted her niece, Kyla, and this week she adopted her nephew, Emery, both of whom have lived with her in Florida for months. She took the children into her home when her stepfather, Bob Nicols, died, her mother, Jeannie Yazell, had health issues and her sister was “battling her own demons,” her mother said.

Yazell called the adoptions “the most selfless thing” Harrison has ever done.

ExploreMcCrabb: Two-time Olympic champion Kayla Harrison now fights for her niece, nephew as their guardian

Now Harrison turns her attention to Guardado, the opponent standing between her, another PFL championship and $1 million prize. Harrison, undefeated in 11 professional fights, is listed as a 30-1 favorite to repeat at some sports books.

“I feel sorry for the other girl,” Yazell said when asked for a fight prediction. “I’m really confident in Kayla.”

That’s not just a proud mother talking. Harrison is on a six-year winning streak in judo and MMA. She won the 2019 PFL Championship, then the 2020 season was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

She’s back in the cage tonight as one of the headliners.

“I want to instill my will,” she told the Associated Press.

After tonight’s title fight, Harrison basically will be a free agent because her PFL deal will expire. She may choose to re-sign with the PFL, the only MMA promotion with a 155-pound women’s division, or sign with the UFC or Bellator.

She believes she’ll be “the highest-paid free agent in the history of MMA.”

Caption
Kayla Harrison, 31, a two-time Olympic gold medalist from Middleton, has adopted her niece, Kyla, and nephew, Emery. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Kayla Harrison, 31, a two-time Olympic gold medalist from Middleton, has adopted her niece, Kyla, and nephew, Emery. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Caption
Kayla Harrison, 31, a two-time Olympic gold medalist from Middleton, has adopted her niece, Kyla, and nephew, Emery. SUBMITTED PHOTO


HOW TO WATCH

WHAT: Women’s lightweight championship: Kayla Harrison vs. Taylor Guardado

WHEN: TV coverage starts at 8 p.m. today

WHERE: Seminole Hard Rock Casino, Hollywood, Fla

TV: ESPN2/ESPN+

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