t1


When the 2020 Summer Olympics scheduled for July 24-Aug. 9 in Tokyo were postponed on March 2, Kayla Harrison fully grasped the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic.

Harrison, the 2019 PFL women’s lightweight champion, earned two Olympic gold medals in judo. And having lived through such an experience, she has firsthand knowledge of both the amount of effort world-class athletes have to put into preparing for the event and the sheer scope of staging the world’s biggest sporting event.

You don’t pull the plug on such an effort lightly, so when the Games were pushed back to 2021 due to the worldwide COVID-19 problem, Harrison grasped that this was a really big deal.

“It’s kind of when I knew it was serious, when they decided to postpone the Olympics,” Harrison recently told MMA Junkie. “I was like, OK, this is global, this is big, this is for real. That’s billions and billions and billions of dollars. They’re not just going to, they’re not going to postpone it. Like, we’re still so far away from it, unless it was very serious, there’s no way the Olympics would be postponed. So that’s when I knew it was pretty serious.”

Eventually, the chain reaction was going to spill over into MMA. That happened this week, when the PFL, which had previously postponed the start of the 2020 season, formally pulled the plug on the season in its entirety. Harrison, who had expected her first fight of the season to come in June, had been training and was surprised to hear about the news on the internet before being informed personally.

“Unfortunately, I was not aware before it became public,” Harrison said. “I actually found out in the middle of training, so that was a bummer. And my initial reaction was, I mean, I wasn’t surprised, I know it was going to be really, really difficult to hold the full season just with all the craziness that’s going on. But definitely disappointment – major, major disappointment.”

Harrison understands why the season needed to be canceled, as the logistics of pulling off full regular season and playoff rounds became too difficult to manage.

However, she hopes that before 2020 is out, the PFL will put together one-off fight cards outside of their main season-based concept, simply so that fighters don’t stagnate and lose more a year or more of their careers without competing.

“My hope is that once the country opens back, and the economy opens back up, that they’ll decide go ahead and have fights – maybe not the season, which I know is an integral part of what makes the PFL so special,” she said. “But, I think they should still give their fighters an opportunity to fight. You know, going 15 months with no action is just not feasible, I think. So hopefully they figure out a way to do one-off events. I know that they’re talking about putting out a lot of content and behind the scenes and working with ESPN to do stuff like that, but listen, as a fighter, my No. 1 goal is to fight. That’s it. It’s not really about making money, it’s not about chasing anything like that, I just want to fight and I want to keep getting better. My hope is that pretty soon I hear some news about, OK, we’re going to have some fights at the end of the year.”

Until then, Harrison’s day-to-day existence really isn’t all that different than the rest of us.

“Honestly, the hardest part is just not knowing what the future holds,” Harrison said. “We have so much unanswered questions and dilemmas and everyone wants things to go to back to normal, but it’s also not really clear whether or not we’ll ever go back to that normal or if we’re going to have to establish a new kind of normal.”



Source link