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Nobody in UFC Bantamweight Division Will Beat Kayla Harrison


Ladd has firsthand experience with Kayla
Harrison inside the cage, so she wasn’t surprised when the
two-time Olympic gold medalist enjoyed a dominant
Ultimate Fighting Championship debut.

While Ladd went the distance in a unanimous decision loss to
Harrison in a 150-pound catchweight bout at the 2023 PFL
Championships, Holly Holm
had a much rougher night, as she absorbed a beating from Harrison
en route to a second-round submission defeat at UFC
300 on April 13. Making the victory more impressive was the
fact that the two-time
Professional Fighters League lightweight champion successfully
made the cut to 135 pounds for the first time without issue.

Ladd, who will meet Katerina
Shakalova at
Bellator Champions Series Paris on Friday, expected Harrison to
be successful in her first Octagon forway.

“Kayla Harrison did exactly what I thought she was gonna do,
especially when I heard the matchup. Obviously people think that’s
a tough fight, or Holly will do the same thing that she did to
Ronda [Rousey],” Ladd said during a recent media call. “[Harrison]
ragdolled her, and I thought she was going to make it look easy.
There’s not currently anybody in that division that’s going to be
able to beat her, in my opinion.

“And yes it’s definitely a very, very hard cut. She did it, she
made it and I’m sure she will again.”

Ladd initially made her name as a bantamweight in the UFC, but she
transitioned to 145 pounds when the cut became too difficult. The
29-year-old Folsom, California, native made her PFL debut in 2022
and took part in the season format last year. With no featherweight
division available for the 2024 campaign, Ladd has transitioned to
Bellator, which was purchased by the PFL late last year. Ladd
admits to missing the regular schedule that the PFL provides, but
competing for Bellator has its perks, as well.

“I would have preferred to have the option of another season. Last
year was my first one. I loved how busy it kept me. I loved the
seasonal format. I loved knowing when I was going to fight, when
the next fight was going to be,” Ladd said. “But there are some
tradeoffs. Now I’m on the Bellator side, and I get elbows back. So
that’s pretty awesome. There’s give and take in each one, but I
definitely prefer to be more active. Ideally [fighting] three times
would be great. That’s the cool thing about the season format is I
know I’m gonna be fighting.”

Shakalova enters the fight on a seven-bout winning streak and is
coming off a split-decision triumph over Dayana
Silva in her Bellator debut last August. The 26-year-old
Ukraine native is known for her grappling, but that’s where Ladd is
most comfortable.

“So far, she’s a dominant grappler, and that’s how she wins her
fights. That’s where I’m world class,” Ladd said. “So she is not
gonna have a good night, but I’m sure she’ll continue to do well

Ladd is no stranger to facing big-name opposition, with fights
against the likes of Harrison, Julia Budd,
Pennington and Germaine
de Randamie on her resume. Thus far, she is taking a realistic
approach when it comes to matchups that intrigue her under the
Bellator and PFL banner.

“The name that was coming up as far as the Bellator side was
McCourt. She’s a fantastic grappler. I’m aware of her already.
That was the one,” Ladd said. “But Larissa [Pacheco] was obviously
on my horizons last year as far as a potential opponent.

Justino] too, but it’s like she’s coming into the picture and
she’s still struggling to get the fights she’s calling for. I was
like, Eh, that’s probably not going to happen before one of the
other ones is.”

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