Holly Holm compares Kayla Harrison to Ronda Rousey ahead of UFC 300: ‘They are two very different fighters’

Holly Holm didn’t see any grand conspiracy at work when she got the call that she would face two-time Olympic judo gold medalist Kayla Harrison in her next fight at UFC 300.

Of course it’s impossible to forget that Holm became a UFC champion after she demolished Olympic judo bronze medalist Ronda Rousey back in 2015. Rousey counted Harrison as a teammate and even a roommate at one point when both were pursuing their Olympic dreams.

Now Harrison seeks to follow in Rousey’s footsteps in the UFC with hopes she can win a title in the near future but to get anywhere near that goal, she first has to get through Holm. Despite coming from almost identical backgrounds, Holm doesn’t view Harrison through the same lens as she did Rousey when they met just over eight years ago.

“As far as their backgrounds being judo champions, they have different stances, different sizes, different styles,” Holm told MMA Fighting. “There are some similarities but they are two very different fighters as well.

“Even when they get to the ground, Kayla Harrison’s had her ground and pound and Ronda would alwa

If there’s one area that Harrison mirrors with Rousey — at least on the surface — it’s that both of them typically preferred a ground battle versus a standup fight. That changed for Rousey after she scored a couple of devastating knockouts on the feet but Harrison has never shied away from her desire to drag an opponent to the canvas and pummel them with fists.

On the feet, Harrison has shown marked improvements over the years but she still typically relies on her grappling game to earn wins. When Rousey struggled to get Holm to the ground, the International Boxing Hall of Famer made her pay, especially with the head kick that ended her undefeated run in the UFC.

Holm won’t predict the same will happen to Harrison because she has to expect that the American Top Team trained fighter will be ready for everything even if she’s not as proficient in some areas.

“She’s going to come in with her best striking,” Holm said. “I came from striking and I have evolved into a mixed martial artist. She came from judo, that type of background, and evolved to become a mixed martial artist. I definitely think she’s improved in her standup. It’s not something she started with just like I didn’t start with wrestling or grappling or anything like that.

“I think she’s had a good amount of time in her mixed martial arts career, to being more well-rounded as I have, so I think that’s what makes this fight interesting.”

Outside of the actual fight, if there’s one aspect to this matchup that’s been scrutinized ad nauseum it’s Harrison competing as a bantamweight for the first time.

With the exception of one fight at featherweight and a 150-pound catchweight fight, Harrison has spent her entire career competing at 155 pounds. She also won gold in the Olympics competing at 78kg, which is just under 172 pounds.

Harrison acknowledged in the past that fighting as low as 135 pounds would test her in ways she’s never been tested before but it’s a challenge she accepted to fight in the UFC. For all the attention that’s going to be paid to Harrison’s weight cut in the days leading up to UFC 300, Holm isn’t putting thought into that at all.

“There’s been fighters who have dropped weight and done really well and then there’s been fighters that have gone up because making weight was depleting them and they’re stronger,” Holm said. “So it just kind of depends.

“I don’t think she would have taken the fight if she didn’t have confidence she could make the weight. So we’ll be fine.”

Rather than worrying about Harrison suffering through a brutal weight cut, Holm prefers to prepare for the best version of her opponent possible. Expecting anything else would be a mistake.

“I don’t think it will matter fight night,” Holm said. “Because I want to be prepared for the fastest, strongest, most conditioned Kayla Harrison there is. I don’t want to put it in my head ‘oh she may not be strong enough or she might be depleted and that I think I have this edge in that way.’ No, I need to beat her at her strongest, at her most conditioned and at her fastest.”

Because there’s been so much hype surrounding Harrison’s debut at UFC 300, Holm understands the stakes for this fight.

A win on Saturday is all that truly matters to Holm but she also knows beating Harrison potentially puts her back in title contention, especially since she already has two wins over current champion Raquel Pennington.

“This is definitely a fight that can set that path in the right direction for me,” Holm said. “I don’t want to fight unless there’s always a vision and a goal of being champion. If that’s not an option, I don’t want to be fighting. I only want to fight when I know that’s still obtainable.

“Pennington being champion now, she’s been around for a quite a long time, too, and yes, I have two wins over here. But she’s always been one of those tough fighters.”