Ariel Helwani reacts to Donn Davis’ “crazy” comments about Kayla Harrison: “You can’t be doing that”

By Susan Cox - June 11, 2024

Ariel Helwani is reacting to Donn Davis’ ‘crazy’ comments concerning Kayla Harrison.

Ariel Helwani, Kayla Harrison, UFC, PFL

It was Kayla Harrison, who after parting ways with the PFL (Professional Fighters League), made her debut with the Ultimate Fighting Championship at UFC 300 on April 13th of this year. Harrison (17-1 MMA) fought and defeated Holly Holm (15-7 MMA) by submission at 1:47 of Round 2 of their bantamweight bout.

PFL executive Donn Davis recently branded Kayla Harrison as a ‘follower who needs validation‘, basically saying the two-time Olympic gold medalist required ‘validation’ for her accomplishments.

It was during a recent interview with ONE Championship titleholder Demetrious Johnson, that Ariel Helwani offered up his criticism of Donn Davis’ remarks concerning Kayla Harrison:

“Don’t get me started on this. This is crazy to me. When I saw that — it’s so crazy to me on so many different levels. Number one, the analogy doesn’t even fit… First of all, LeBron (James) left Cleveland to go join Miami and create a super team, and thus he won two championships with Miami. Doesn’t really fit there. But he’s taking a shot at Kayla by saying Kayla is more Kevin Durant… (saying) the only way Kevin Durant could win a championship is by joining this super power… The analogy doesn’t work for multiple reasons. Number one, Kayla Harrison had already won championships with PFL!”

Continuing, Helwani stated:

“Who’s the big fight (for Harrison in the PFL)? Larissa Pacheco (because) she beat her? Guess what, Kayla beat her twice! You want them to fight a fourth time? None of those fights drew a dime!… Cyborg? Okay, first of all, as of right this moment, Cyborg isn’t on the same page as the PFL and is openly complaining. There’s no guarantee that that fight would ever happen as well. Now let’s compare that to the UFC, where you have a slew of new blood, a slew of new faces.”

“I like Donn Davis a lot… (but) if you want to be known as the fighter-first organization, you can’t be taking shots at a two-time gold medalist, a two-time champion in your organization. You can’t be doing that. You need to do what Scott Coker did when Michael Chandler left, who was the face of Bellator. ‘Good luck, we wish you the best, we’ll be rooting for you.'”

Concluding, Ariel Helwani explained (h/t MMANews):

“I had a bit of a text conversation with Donn after I tweeted this. I’m not gonna talk about what we talked about, but what I tried to explain to him — I’ll say what I said to him, I won’t say what he said to me — we can debate who’s tougher, Pacheco or (Holly) Holm, Cyborg or (Amanda) Nunes, but here’s what your missing: Kayla Harrison going from 155 to 135 (pounds) is a challenge greater than all these people combined. That’s the part that you’re missing! … That challenge alone is worth our respect. You have to recognize that, Donn. The fact that you’re not, to me, will only tell other fighters and fans, hey, maybe this guy doesn’t get it.”

Do you agree with Helwani that Donn Davis should be showing more respect for Kayla Harrison? Or is Davis just bitter because Harrison left the PFL and signed on with the UFC?

Share your thoughts in the comment section PENN Nation!

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Ariel Helwani Kayla Harrison UFC