by Damon Martin
The 2012 Olympic games marked the first time ever that an American captured gold in Judo.
Ohio native Kayla Harrison defeated British judoka Gemma Gibbons to claim the gold medal in the London games at 78kg, becoming not only the first woman to win the top prize, but the first ever American to win gold at the Olympics in Judo.
Now home from the whirlwind tour that made stops all over television and radio, Harrison is starting to settle back into her daily life and that includes signing on with a new management team.
Harrison has become part of the Dominance MMA family, led by former Olympic judoka Ali Abdel-Aziz, where she joins former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, Rolles Gracie and family and team leader Renzo Gracie. Abdel-Aziz will manage Harrison along with her Judo coach and longtime friend Jimmy Pedro.
Pedro has taught some of the most successful judokas in U.S. history including his work with Bellator lightweight Rick Hawn, and has himself won two Olympic bronze medals in Judo.
Now the signing might make some assume this will mark Harrison’s eventual move into mixed martial arts, but that’s not the case just yet. According to Abdel-Aziz, who spoke to MMAWeekly.com on Tuesday, Harrison is focused on not only being the first ever American to win a gold medal at the Olympics in Judo – she wants to win two gold medals.
The plan for now is for Harrison to focus on her training for the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro, but she will start working on her Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu game by training at Renzo Gracie‘s academy in New York City.
“Not sure as of right now. I never say never but I don’t know if the MMA world is ready for me! I’m a bit bigger than Ronda, and I’m not quite as flashy. I’m also not an entertainer. I do the sport because I love it, not for money or fame. So to make the transition into MMA would be a big one for me,” said Harrison.
Once the 2016 games are completed however, Harrison would only be 26-years of age and much like fellow Olympic gold medalist Jordan Burroughs, the window would still be wide open for a potential move into MMA if she chooses to go that route.
Harrison joins fellow American Olympic Judo team member Marti Malloy as competitors who have signed on with MMA management teams. Malloy, who won the Olympic bronze medal in 2012 recently signed on with Ingrained Media, a team that represents fighters such as Shane Carwin and UFC middleweight Chris Camozzi.