When Cris Cyborg faces off with Sinead Kavanagh in the Bellator 271 main event on Friday, two-time PFL lightweight champion Kayla Harrison will be seated just a few feet away watching all the action unfold.
Officially a free agent after completing the last fight on her PFL contract with a $1 million win over Taylor Guardado in October, Harrison is now talking to all potential suitors including promotions such as Bellator and the UFC.
While she’s made no decision about her fighting future just yet, Harrison addressed past social media tensions with Cyborg while appearing on the Punchin’ In podcast.
“I heard someone’s coming into my town,” Harrison said with a smile when talking about Cyborg. “I might have to roll through, check it out, look at some future opponents.
“She tries to stay relevant. I feel like anytime someone has any bit of press or anything, she chimes in and says irrelevant things. I’m pretty sure I’m going to be cageside. Gonna be fun. Gonna be a good time.”
A fight against Cyborg, Bellator’s reigning featherweight champion, would definitely be Harrison’s biggest test to date as the two-time Olympic gold medalist has largely run roughshod over the competition she’s faced thus far in the PFL. Cyborg currently stands at No. 4 in MMA Fighting’s Pound-For-Pound Rankings, with Harrison only a few spots behind at No. 8.
Harrison has only gone to decision two times in her career — both fights against Larissa Pacheco — and she currently sports a perfect 11-0 record with seven first-round finishes on her resume.
It’s impossible to know if she’ll actually join the Bellator roster but Harrison definitely likes her chances if she ever gets the chance to share the cage with Cyborg.
“I think I’d dominate,” Harrison said about the fight. “I mean realistically every fight is tough. You have to be smart. You have to be calculated, be a cold killer in there but I have the utmost faith in my coaches and them developing a game plan and I know I work harder than anybody else in the room, including her.
“I think my career is going [up] and she’s on the end of her career, I would say.”
Harrison added that her confidence in a matchup against Cyborg isn’t meant as a slight to her career or the long list of accomplishments she’s racked up as one of the greatest women’s fighters in the history of mixed martial arts.
“Not to disrespect her at all. I applaud what she’s done,” Harrison said. “I think she’s a great fighter. I think she paved the way and listen you have to have respect for someone who’s had such an uphill climb to get to where she is. Nobody wanted to promote her. Nobody really cared about women’s MMA. No one gave a sh*t. No one was banging down her door to endorse their brand or product or whatever. She was just so good that they couldn’t ignore her. I respect that. She just said I’m going to keep doing what I do and now she’s in a great position.
“She makes good money, she’s living her best life from what it looks like. There’s always a bigger, badder shark in the sea though isn’t there?”
Considering Cyborg is competing in the main event, there’s a good chance the Bellator cameras will zero in on Harrison at some point during Friday night’s card to build up a potential showdown between them in the future.
Despite the expected push from the Viacom-owned promotion, Harrison hasn’t said if she’s leaning one way or another when it comes to her next contract as she continues to explore her options as one of the hottest free agents in combat sports.