Kayla Harrison isn’t here to mess about.
The PFL lightweight star and two-time Olympic Judo gold medallist wasted no time in calling out Cris Cyborg following the latter’s departure from the UFC earlier this week.
“Hi Cris,” Harrison said to TMZ Sports yesterday, addressing the camera through a confident smile.
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“Listen, I heard you lost your job. But if you’re interested, the PFL has a very special place for you, and it’s second.”
After losing the UFC featherweight strap to Amanda Nunes last December, Cyborg fought only once more with the UFC, taking Felicia Spencer to a three-round decision win in July. Cyborg and the UFC then parted ways in less than harmonious circumstances.
Harrison says she thinks the PFL would be a great fit for the former three-promotion featherweight champion, adding a dose of shade for good measure.
“I think she would fit right in at the PFL,” Harrison said.
“First of all, it’s at 155 pounds so she wouldn’t be dying to make the weight like she does at 145. I’m going to beat Cris Cyborg if she comes to the PFL, and I don’t think anyone else could offer her that. Plus, it’s a ‘you win, you fight, you move on’ type of atmosphere so she’s not going to have to worry about the promoters liking or not liking her, which seems to be a big problem for her.”
It’s not just Harrison who’s confident that she would come out on top in a bout with Cyborg. UFC ‘champ-champ’ and consensus women’s GOAT, Amanda Nunes, who has trained with Harrison on multiple occasions, is also in that camp.
“Well, it gives me a lot more confidence you know, to hear someone that you train with all the time say that,” Harrison said.
“She’s been in the cage with Cris – that’s the scariest thing about MMA, it’s so unknown. In Judo, we go to training camps and fight the same people over and over; we train with them over and over. But in MMA, you don’t ever get your hands on them until you’re in there. So, you never really know what you’re going to get, and for someone who’s fought her to say, ‘no, Kayla, you’re going to beat her’ gives me a huge confidence boost.”
Asked how her wrestling style would play out against Cyborg’s fearsome stand-up skills, Harrison wasn’t overly worried.
“I mean, I wouldn’t say that it’s incredible striking,” Harrison said. “She’s big, she’s strong, she’s powerful, but she doesn’t move her head, comes straight forward – she’s definitely a brawler. My goal is to become to best MMA fighter in the world; it’s to become technical, it’s to become well-rounded – I’m working on all those little details. I may not ever be the world’s best striker, but I’m going to be the world’s best MMA fighter, and that means being able to put them all together and tie them all together in a very artistic fashion.”
“I shine brightest under the lights, the more pressure, the better I do. There’s a reason I have two Olympic gold medals, and it’s not a coincidence. I love the spotlight; I love to shine, I love the pressure.”
Harrison, for now, is focused on facing Genah Fabian at PFL 7 on October 11. Cyborg’s immediate future, meanwhile, is unclear – but a part-time job at Dunkin Donuts should help tie her over while she figures out the next move.
Rhodri Morgan is a combat sports writer based out of London, England. When not covering MMA, he can be found roaming the halls of a south London Wholefoods, finding a dog to befriend and rolling in the doomed pursuit of the perfect kimura.