Kayla Harrison – Keys to Victory at UFC 300

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UFC 300 marks the highly anticipated and long overdue debut of Kayla Harrison. The two-time PFL tournament champion signed for the UFC and is scheduled against Holly Holm on the preliminary section of the biggest card in UFC history. We discussed the signing of Harrison and what it means for the company on our YouTube channel, but in this one, we will look at how Harrison wins her opening bout in the UFC in Las Vegas!

Kayla Harrison – Keys to Victory at UFC 300

Close the Distance, Get it Down!

Although this one may be an obvious key to victory for the former Olympic gold medalist, it’s absolutely vital that she does this, as soon as possible. One of the strengths that Harrison has is her grappling, it’s the way she won the majority of her fights in the PFL. Where she’s struggled is when she failed to keep her opponent down, which we saw against Larissa Pacheco in the 2023 finals.

Getting in close will eradicate any potential octagon jitters that she may have. She needs to get her hands on Holm and use her superior size and strength (remember, this is the first time that Harrison will be cutting down to 135lbs) to control things. After she closes the distance and gets her hands on Holm, she can work her elite judo with trips and more traditional MMA wrestling to get things to the ground. Holm’s takedown defence sits at 78% and she is extremely good at staying on her feet.

She’s strong in the clinch and has utilised this in more recent years, looking to hold her opponents up against the fence and do damage from there, however, against Harrison, this will be tough.

Once Harrison does get it down to the ground, she must use her ground and pound…

Smash Holm with Ground and Pound… Including Elbows!

If Harrison is able to ground her opponent, she can finally use her whole arsenal. As we know (unfortunately we don’t know why), the PFL doesn’t allow elbows on the ground, however, as we also know, the UFC have no such rules. Previously, Harrison has pleaded with PFL officials to allow her to use elbows, however, her request wasn’t granted.

We know just how devastating she can be when she uses ground and pound elbows. In 2020, the PFL allowed their star to have a lone fight in Invicta at Invicta 43. She dominated from start to finish and did particularly nasty work on the ground, busting her opponent open, leading to a crimson mess.

Kayla Harrison dominates

If Harrison can do this to Holm, not only is she likely to win the fight, but she’ll make a statement.

Don’t Shoot ‘Blind’ Takedowns

Blind takedowns are takedowns that are shot from far out, without any ‘distraction’ such as feints or strikes and are sloppy. Harrison can’t afford to do this against Holm. As we know, Holm is a hall-of-fame level boxer, a stand-out kickboxer and a woman who has honed her MMA skills over the years. She’s got extremely good footwork, quick counters and as we know, when she’s faced an Olympic-level judoka in the past, she did well, to say the least.

If Harrison is lazy with her takedowns or gets desperate later on in the fight, she could find herself on the wrong end of a strong counter from Holm, or even find herself looking up at the lights of the T-Mobile Arena following a takedown from Holm.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 15: (L-R) Holly Holm takes down Ronda Rousey in their UFC women’s bantamweight championship bout during the UFC 193 event at Etihad Stadium on November 15, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Holm was able to take down Rousey when the two women faced in Australia by ducking underneath a lazy hook from her opponent, getting the body lock and picking Rousey up before dumping her on her back. Harrison can’t afford for this to happen to her. She needs to make every strike feint believable, commit to her takedowns 100% and not allow herself to get countered by Holm.

If the former face of the PFL does shoot blind takedowns, it could be a short debut for her as we know Holm can counter well and has knockout power.

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Frazer Krohn has been with MMASucka for nearly 5 years. He is the host of the MMASucka podcast, which is released every Monday. He's the author of a series of six books about MMA, which were published in 2023.

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