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Kayla Harrison: PFL promised to do whatever it takes to bring ‘big name fighters to come over and challenge me’

Following a long free agency period, Kayla Harrison inked a new multi-fight, multi-year deal to remain with the PFL after the promotion matched a lucrative offer made to the two-time Olympic gold medalist from Bellator MMA.

The new contract will earn Harrison a lot of money on top of a potential $1 million bonus if she wins during the PFL season for the third consecutive year in a row. With her immediate future secured, Harrison is anxious to get back to work while discovering her true worth after testing the open market.

“I think there were a lot of contract negotiations, there were a lot of offers, many of them very lucrative,” Harrison said on ESPN SportsCenter on Tuesday. “Ultimately, the PFL had the right to match any contract that I received and they stepped up in a big way and now I’m going to be staying with the PFL. I’m excited.

“I’ve talked to [PFL co-owner] Donn Davis last night and he made it very clear to me that the goals I have for myself, the way that I want to challenge myself is still going to be accomplished and the PFL supports me in that 100 percent. They’re not afraid to pay big money and bring over big name fighters to come over and challenge me.”

Harrison will certainly be compensated for this new contract but there will surely be criticism aimed at both her and the PFL about the kind of competition she’ll face there.

As she amassed a perfect 12-0 record in her career with the PFL, Harrison has demolished every opponent she’s faced with 10 finishes coming by knockout or submission with just two fights making it to decision.

“On one hand, I don’t disagree with them. I get it,” Harrison said when addressing her competition in PFL. “They want to see me fight the top dogs. I want to see me fight the top dogs. I’m not running from anybody. I’m not hiding from anybody. I’m more than happy to fight anyone, anywhere, any time. I’m ready to be the greatest. I know I’m not there yet. I know that in the fan’s eyes and in the MMA world’s eyes, I’m not there yet but I’m ready to put in the work and do it.

“I can only fight who’s in front of me. I can only get in the cage and try to be the best possible version of myself and I don’t want to take away from any of the women who I’ve fought or who have stepped up and challenged me. I think they’re incredible people and incredible athletes and they’re all just doing their best, too. So I take nothing away from them.”

Between seasons, the PFL did sign former Bellator champion Julia Budd to the roster but higher profile fighters such as Cris Cyborg and Amanda Nunes remain in other organizations.

Harrison acknowledges that she would love to face any of those potential opponents but she believes the PFL will do everything possible to make those types of fights happen while she’s working under this new contract.

“I have a goal — it’s to be the greatest,” Harrison said. “I know I’m going to have to fight the greatest so now it’s time for me to invite them to come get a piece of me. I guess I’m going to have to start calling people out. I don’t know. I’ve got to figure out a way to make it happen. I believe that it will happen. It’s only a matter of time and I’ll be ready when it comes.

“I’m going to compete in the PFL season. I believe it starts in May. I’ve got four fights to win the title again and then I’m excited for hopefully a big fight with a big name. The PFL has assured me and promised me that they don’t care if they have to cross promote, co-promote, they don’t care if it’s on planet Earth or planet Pluto, they want to make that fight happen just as much as I do.”

In addition to Harrison’s re-signing with the promotion, the PFL also announced plans to launch a “pay-per-view super fight division” that is expected to feature the two-time lightweight champion in prominent matchups.

First things first, Harrison is mostly just ready to put all the contract talk behind her as she prepares to compete in the upcoming PFL season starting later this year.

“I’ve got four hard fights to win,” Harrison said. “I’ve got a long season ahead of me. Four fights in five months is no joke. It takes a toll on your mind and your body and I’m excited to get back in there.

“It’s been a long layoff. Free agency was all right, but I’m ready to get back to doing what I love.”

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