Harrison re-signed with the PFL after the league matched an offer from Bellator in free agency earlier this year. She had been in discussions with the UFC, Bellator, and PFL as she pondered her next move.
Harrison was in attendance to watch Peña upset Amanda Nunes at UFC 269 last December. A fight between Nunes and Harrison was considered to be a possibility with a win over Peña.
During a recent interview with Morning Kombat, Peña explained why she wasn’t shocked by Harrison’s free-agency decision.
“No, if you go back to my interviews months ago, I knew she was gonna stay with the PFL and I said she wasn’t coming over here. And I knew she absolutely wouldn’t be making that jump,” Peña said.
“The PFL has surrounded their entire organization and hinged their entire operation off one girl, and that’s Kayla. They cannot lose their one dog that they got in the fight, it’s not gonna happen. So they’re going to hang onto her for everything they’ve got. And guess what? I’m not hating on you boo-boo, get your paper. You just won $2 million in the last two years fighting these tomato cans. Do you. Get your money.”
Peña went on to criticize Harrison’s lack of high-caliber competition in the PFL while also touting her own fighting résumé.
“I’m sorry, I don’t mean to [say she’s fighting] tomato cans, I just mean to say that I think nine of her wins were off of TUF alternates,” Pena continued. “I’m fighting the elite, I’m fighting the best of the best, I’m fighting world champion after world champion: Nicco Montaño, Valentina Shevchenko, Germaine de Randamie, Amanda Nunes. I’m fighting the hitters out there.
“So she was welcome to come, she didn’t come. So when her contract’s up she’ll be welcome to come again. And if she wants to come jump ship, then we’ll be ready and we’ll be welcoming her with open arms.”
Harrison made her 2022 PFL debut last Friday in a victorious effort against Marina Mokhnatkina in the main event of PFL 3. Peña will face Nunes in a title rematch later this year following their time as coaches in the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter.
While hopes of a Harrison vs. Nunes matchup are diminished, for now, the probability of an eventual clash between Peña and Harrison remains in the cards.
Did Kayla Harrison’s free agency decision surprise you?