Whilst she may have only debuted in the sport in 2018, over 13 years after Cyborg’s first outing, Harrison has already grown into one of the most dominant and well-known mixed martial artists in the world. After winning back-to-back Olympic gold medals in 2012 and 2016, the judoka transitioned to MMA.
12 fights later and Harrison has built an unblemished record, finished 10 opponents, experienced championship success twice, and secured her status as perhaps combat sports’ most-sought after free agent. After seven fights, all of which took place in the surging Professional Fighters League promotion, Harrison won the 2019 PFL Women’s Lightweight Tournament.
After a sole appearance for Invicta FC following the cancelation of the 2020 PFL season due to COVID-19, Harrison returned for another title charge this year. With three first-round finishes against Mariana Morais, Cindy Dandois, and Genah fabian, the 31-year-old secured her place in a second consecutive 155-pound final. Four minutes into the second round of her high-stakes clash with Taylor Guardado in the season finale, Harrison locked in a tight armbar submission, ensuring she’d walk away with yet another piece of gold and another lucrative $1 million check.
Will Harrison’s Path To Greatness Go Through Cyborg?
Harrison’s 11th PFL appearance was the final outing of her PFL contract. Given her dominance, many expect the Ohio native to test the waters in other promotions, perhaps the UFC or Bellator MMA. During this year’s season, she’d suggested that the PFL would have to offer her a significantly better contract in order to retain her services for another year.
Whilst a move to the UFC is something many fans want to see, others have called for a Bellator switch, which could see Harrison settle her beef with former UFC Women’s Featherweight Champion Cyborg.
The Brazilian is seemingly keen for a clash with the newest MMA sensation. Talk of it first arose when Cyborg hinted she could make 155 pounds following Harrison’s victory over Fabian. In response, the PFL star suggested making weight and being able to beat her are two very different tasks. In a later interview, Cyborg claimed Ronda Rousey was far more dangerous than Harrison is.
In an interview with ESPN MMA prior to her victory at PFL 10 this week, Harrison played a word association game with Marc Raimondi. When Cyborg game up, the judoka described her as “irrelevant,” although clarified she meant to herself rather than MMA as a whole.
“Irrelevant…I mean, of course not to MMA as a whole, she’s a pioneer like, Jesus, I’m not trying to be an asshole. I’m just saying like, to me. If it happens, it happens. I’m excited for one day squaring up against her. This whole like, her talking shit about her belts, and me talking shit about my gold medals, and everybody talking, like, we’re gonna find out someday. We’re gonna find out.”
When asked if she holds hope of a potential meeting with Cyborg down the line, Harrison suggested the prospect of facing the veteran is an exciting one, and a clash she hopes comes to fruition.
“I freakin’ hope so… Cris Cyborg, I think, is a pioneer of the sport. I think she’s accomplished a lot. I think she’s had an uphill battle to get where she is. I think she’s a very good fighter, and I think that I wanna fight her someday.”
Despite becoming a free agent, recent quotes have suggested a PFL renewal is very much on the cards for Harrison. Along with her manager Ali Abdelaziz claiming he’s confident a deal with the promotion can be agreed upon, Harrison herself admitted she has a number in mind that would force her to choose the security of a PFL deal over the uncertainty of free agency.
While it remains to be seen where her future lies, it’s clear Harrison isn’t short of options. If she chooses Bellator, it stands to reason she’ll be opposite Cyborg inside the cage sooner rather than later.
Would you like to see Kayla Harrison and Cris Cyborg face each other sometime in the future?