Kayla Harrison is not intimidated by Cris Cyborg, or the thought that the former UFC women’s featherweight champion may grace the Professional Fighters League with her presence.
As a matter of fact, Harrison looks to welcome that challenge with open arms.
“Hi Cris! Listen, I heard you lost your job but if you’re interested, the PFL has a very special place for you; it’s second,” Harrison told TMZ Sports in a recent interview.
After defeating Felicia Spencer by unanimous decision at UFC 240 last month, Cyborg became a free agent. In addition, UFC president Dana White said in a sit-down interview with Laura Sanko that the Brazilian striker is free to go wherever she chooses, and that the UFC would not be matching any offers.
With the courting of Cyborg seemingly underway, Harrison has thrown the PFL’s name in the proverbial hat, officially. The two-time Olympic gold medalist believes the organization has a lot to offer Cyborg on top of the chance of winning $1 million: a healthier weight class, a professional atmosphere and a tough challenge.
“I think that she would fit right in at the PFL,” Harrison explained. “First of all it’s 155 pounds so she wouldn’t be dying to make the weight like she does at 145 and I think that there’s not really anybody else out there that’s gonna give her – I’m gonna beat Cris Cyborg if she comes to the PFL and I don’t think any other organization can offer her that. Plus it’s a win, you fight, you move on type of atmosphere so she’s not gonna have to worry about the promoters liking her or not liking her which seems to be a big problem for her. If you win, you get to continue.”
When you look at the matchup on paper, many would say that Cyborg has the striking advantage, while Harrison would control the grappling and wrestling aspect. Kayla Harrison, one of the top prospects in all of women’s MMA, sees the physical tools Cyborg brings to the table but isn’t completely sold on Cyborg’s standup.
“I wouldn’t say it’s incredible striking,” Harrison said. “I’d say she’s big, she’s strong, she’s powerful but she doesn’t move her head, she comes straight forward, she’s definitely a brawler. My goal is to become the best MMA fighter in the world. It’s to become technical, it’s to become well-rounded so I’m working on all those details. I may not ever be the world’s best striker but I’m gonna be the world’s best MMA fighter and that means being able to put them all together in a very artistic fashion.”
Although Harrison has a lot less experience in the MMA world than Cyborg — and is also gearing up for a 2019 PFL playoff run for a chance to win $1 million — she is making one thing abundantly clear: she wants to fight the former UFC women’s featherweight champion.
“Of course (I want that fight with Cyborg),” Harrison stated. “I shine under the brightest 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. I feel like we grow at the edges of our experience and when we’re uncomfortable, is when we’re growing and that’s what I want to do. I want to be the best possible version of Kayla I can be.”
How do you see a fight between Kayla Harrison and Cris Cyborg going down in the PFL?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 8/5/2019.