UFC President Dana White continues to downplay the talents of two-time PFL champ Kayla Harrison.
During an interview Tuesday with Yahoo! Sports, White indicated Harrison’s run in the tournament-based promotion hadn’t proven she was a world-class competitor.
“Kayla Harrison hasn’t fought anybody yet,” White said. “She hasn’t fought anybody. Let me put in Amanda Nunes in with the girls that she’s fought – might be the first death in MMA, OK? And listen, I like her, I’ve got nothing against her. But c’mon, let’s be honest.”
Despite repeated claims of no personal grudge against the Olympic gold medalist, White’s remark was the latest instance where he questioned the undefeated Harrison’s accomplishments in MMA. The UFC exec has been asked several times about signing Harrison during her fast rise in the cage after a decorated career as a judoka.
Harrison, the No. 10-ranked female pound-for-pound fighter in the world in the MMA Fighting Global Rankings, entered free agency following her second PFL championship title win this past month. She beat four straight opponents – three of them in the first round – to claim another $1 million payout for her 2021 tourney win.
Leading up to the fight, Harrison proclaimed she would be the biggest free agent in MMA and targeted “life-changing money” and fights against pound-for-pound greats Cris Cyborg and Amanda Nunes. Cyborg is the Bellator featherweight champion, while Nunes holds the bantamweight and featherweight titles in the UFC. Harrison has competed once at featherweight in the all-female Invicta FC promotion.
White previously advised Harrison to stay in the PFL, where lesser opposition and bigger paydays reside. Harrison has said she’ll continue to focus on competition and let her management team negotiate the best deal.
White has indicated he’s ready to sign Harrison despite all that he’s said. Whether all the rhetoric will influence Harrison’s decision remains to be seen.