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Gabi Garcia: ‘No chance’ Kayla Harrison beats Cris Cyborg in MMA

Gabi Garcia will fight on the Rizin World Grand Prix 2016 main card Saturday.
Undefeated fighter Gabi Garcia is in talks for a potential return to MMA in late 2021.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Brazilian jiu-jitsu legend Gabi Garcia believes Kayla Harrison is “all bark and no bite” and seriously doubts the Olympic legend will ever agree to face Cris Cyborg in a MMA cage.

Harrison, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in judo, became a free agent in MMA after conquering her second lightweight PFL tournament in 2021 and boosting her professional record to 12-0 with 10 finishes. Cyborg, the current Bellator queen and former UFC, Strikeforce, and Invicta FC featherweight titleholder, has expressed openness to a potential title defense against Harrison in 2022 should she choose to sign with Bellator next.

Garcia, who has traded shots with Harrison in the past, believes Harrison will opt to re-sign with PFL because “she gets paid really well there” and can avoid tougher competition.

“I think she’s still missing a few things to call herself [a] complete [fighter],” Garcia told MMA Fighting. “I can’t see this superiority. I’ve seen [some evolution in her] ground-and-pound in her past fight, but against Cris, Cris is superior to any other woman in this sport. I can’t say 100 percent because I thought Cris would beat Amanda [Nunes] and anything can happen in a fight, but looking at the technique, there’s no chance [Harrison] beats Cris.

“I don’t know what would be Kayla’s gameplan — take her down and stay on top, hold Cris there on side control, ground-and-pound from half ground? Jiu-jitsu-wise, she can’t submit Cris. Cris’ defense on the ground is great and [Harrison] can’t save herself on the feet. I wouldn’t like to fight Cris on the feet.”

A six-time jiu-jitsu world champion as a black belt and a four-time ADCC gold medalist, Garcia racked up a 6-0 record with one no-contest in MMA while competing in Asia between 2015 and 2018, mostly under the RIZIN banner. The Brazilian grappler said she spent months “managing” her weight to get as low as 180 pounds for a potential MMA fight with Harrison, who allegedly turned it down.

“I don’t know if [the Cyborg] fight will happen, or even my fight with her,” she said, “simply because she thinks she’s better than anyone, that her technique is so great, that my technique is not good enough to fight her. If I’m such easy money, why won’t she fight me? I’ve spent six months managing my weight to fight her. I’ve agreed to anything. Lowering my weight, doing how many tests she wanted, but she’s all talk.

“She’s only had one tough fight at PFL. The rest, in my opinion, were fights in which she was helped. Not that there’s anything wrong with it — the company built her like every promotion [who] works the fighters they want to build — but I think she talks too much. A fight against Cris would be goodbye for her. There’s no way she fights Cris.

“I’d like to fight her, but I hope Cris gets the fight and gets the job done.”

Garcia hasn’t fought in MMA since 2018, when she submitted Brazilian kickboxer Barbara Nepomuceno in the opening round of their light heavyweight bout at RIZIN 14.

Garcia said she’s no longer under contract with RIZIN, but is in talks with the company for a potential return at the upcoming New Year’s Eve card in Japan, pending the resolution of complications from the COVID-19 travel restrictions in the country.

The undefeated fighter said RIZIN approached her with a few potential opponents, including Lei’D Tapa — a rematch of her MMA debut — and heavyweight boxer Danielle Perkins, who won gold at the 2019 AIBA Women’s world boxing championships and holds a professional record of 3-0 in boxing after an 11-1 run as an amateur.

Looking back at her MMA career, Garcia admitted that she ”didn’t agree” with some of the decisions RIZIN made in the past, including booking Garcia against much older opposition in Japan. She acknowledged and “people always remember that,” but she still plans to resume her MMA run and fight “at least two or three more fights.”

“I’m in negotiations with RIZIN,” Garcia said. “I don’t have a contract with RIZIN, I broke that contract, but I really like fighting there. I like [Nobuyuki] Sakakibara and the Japanese audience, but maybe I’ll fight here in the United States as well.”