Olympic gold medalist Kayla Harrison will compete in MMA

0:49 | MMA
Olympic gold medalist Kayla Harrison to become MMA fighter
Thursday October 27th, 2016

After winning two Olympic gold medals in judo, Kayla Harrison will transition to mixed martial arts. 

Harrison told USA Today that she has signed a deal with World Series of Fighting that begins Dec. 31. In addition to fighting, Harrison also plans on serving as a commentator for WSOF.

The announcement comes two months after Harrison expressed doubt about a potential move to MMA and said she had turned down multiple offers to join the sport.

“[MMA is] just so different from judo,” Harrison told ESPN. “After a match in judo, you shake a person's hand or you give them a hug. You bow to them to show respect. MMA isn't like that. I don't know if I'm cut out for a world where you get fights based on how pretty you are and how much you talk, not necessarily what you're worth in the ring.”

In an interview with TIME less than a week later, however, Harrison admitted that an MMA career is "really tempting" and its potential for fame and fortune is a "huge opportunity" for her.

Harrison follows in the footsteps of UFC star and former roommate Ronda Rousey, who won a bronze medal in judo in 2008.

In 2012, Harrison became the first U.S. judoka to win a gold medal. Her gold at the 2016 games in Rio made her the first American to win back-to-back medals of any kind in the sport.

-Ryan Fish

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.