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Cris Cyborg downplays Kayla Harrison talk, welcomes PFL star to ‘come to my home’ at Bellator 271

Cris Cyborg looks to defend her Bellator title for the third time Friday in Florida.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Cris Cyborg is fully focused on defending her Bellator featherweight title Friday night at Bellator 271 against Ireland’s Sinead Kavanagh in Hollywood, Fla.

What she’s not worried about are the words of PFL star and current free agent Kayla Harrison.

Speaking with reporters during Bellator 271’s virtual media day, Cyborg downplayed every question about the two-time Olympic gold medalist, who also became a two-time PFL lightweight champion earlier this year.

“I’d like to talk about Sinead, I’m going to fight her Friday,” Cyborg said. “But I [don’t] have any problem fighting Kayla. I have courage. If the fight is going to happen in the future, yes, I have no problem. But I’m focused on [fighting] Sinead Friday.”

Given that Harrison trains out of nearby American Top Team in Florida, Cyborg welcomed the undefeated judoka to attend Bellator 271 and watch her compete live Friday night at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

“When I go to a fight, I don’t focus on who’s outside the arena,” Cyborg said, “I just focus on my opponent. But Kayla, you’re welcome to come to my home.”

Bellator 271 will be the company’s return show in the United States following a trip to Ireland this past Friday, and Cyborg revealed that her team decided that it wasn’t in their best interest to fly out to Europe to defend her belt in enemy territory at Bellator 270 because, Cyborg said, “I’m the champ and she has to come to my home.”

Cyborg remains one of the all-time greats in women’s MMA and is a massive favorite against Kavanagh. But she also isn’t concerned with any talk of odds heading into her title defense.

“I really stay outside social media in my camps, I let my team take care of this,” she said. “I know I have five rounds to finish the fight. I don’t have to rush, just have the opportunity and be patient and find the way to finish the fight.”

A former Strikeforce, Invicta FC, and UFC champion, Cyborg is 3-0 in Bellator with dominant finishes over Julia Budd, Arlene Blencowe, and Leslie Smith.

Kavanagh enters the first title bout of her professional career fresh off a pair of Bellator wins over Olga Rubin and Katharina Lehner, which boosted her overall MMA record to 7-4.

“I think she’s a boxer, I think she has heavy hands,” Cyborg said. “But I believe MMA is mixed martial arts and I believe I have a lot of tools to finish this fight. Let’s see how it’s going to work.”