A two-time Olympic gold medalist who became a rising star in the MMA world by winning two consecutive seasons in the PFL as a lightweight, Harrison shopped her talents around during her free agency period before eventually re-signing with PFL.
Cyborg, the Bellator featherweight queen, said she never expected Harrison to actually leave the promotion for a run in Bellator or the UFC.
“I wasn’t surprised,” Cyborg said on Wednesday’s episode of Trocação Franca, the Portuguese-language podcast of MMA Fighting. “I knew she would stay at PFL. I believe it was just [marketing], but knew she would sign with them.”
Once news broke that Harrison was leaning towards re-signing with PFL after the company matched Bellator’s offer, a tweet from Cyborg prompted a fired-up answer from Harrison.
— Kayla Harrison (@KaylaH) March 1, 2022
“I think she got emotional, right?” said Cyborg, who’s scheduled to defend her Bellator featherweight title on Saturday in a main-event rematch with Arlene Blencowe at Bellator 279. “I think she got emotional. I don’t know if the eye [emoji] triggered her or what, but we have to be professionals. This is a new generation.”
Once Cyborg and Harrison were under contract once again with different promotions, many assumed the door was closed on a potential clash between the two any time soon.
However, PFL officials have voiced their interest in a possible co-promotion with Bellator to make the superfight happen.
“I believe that, for this to happen, she had to have signed with Bellator,” Cyborg said. “We don’t know what will happen in the future, if this fight will really happen. I’ll continue my work and train, now focused on Arlene [Blencowe], and not think right now about people I might fight in the future. I’ll just focus on Arlene now.”
That future, as it turns out, may include bouts in different sports for the Brazilian star.
Cyborg has knocked out opponents in 20 of her 25 wins, including stoppages of Julia Budd, Marloes Coenen, Gina Carano and Leslie Smith, and has tested herself under Muay Thai rules twice nearly a decade ago, going the distance in a loss to Muay Thai phenom Jorina Baars.
With the recent influx of MMA stars in the boxing world, Cyborg might also test her hands in the squared circle down the line.
“I had the opportunity in my career to compete in Muay Thai, jiu-jitsu and wrestling, and still haven’t had the opportunity to box,” she said. “For sure, I want to box before I end my career. If it’s any time soon, I don’t know, but I’ve been training to stay ready to give my best when the opportunity presents itself.”
At the end of the day, Cyborg is “very happy” to live a “new era” of her career under the Bellator banner and feels “no pressure whatsoever” against an opponent she has already beaten in the past.
“I like to fight and I love what I do,” Cyborg said. “I’ve been doing this for 20 years. People ask me, ‘Cris, what else do you want to conquer in your career?’ I love what I do and I use this opportunity to share my faith and help people. I’m the champion in the cage but I want to be a champion in other people’s lives as well.
“That’s the legacy I wanna leave. I want to transform lives and defend my belt. This fight is just like any other fight. I’ve worked hard and dedicated, and I’ll give my best. Wins and everything else, I leave in God’s hands, whatever is His goal and purpose.”