In some ways, Kayla Harrison appreciates the creativity some fans have shown online when mocking her level of competition.
The two-time PFL champion, who sports a perfect 14-0 record, has been virtually flawless in her fighting career. Yet the biggest complaint she faces always comes down to the her opponents. She tries to have fun with some of the responses she sees after winning a fight, but she’s also very cognizant about comparing her resume to other fighters.
“I struggle with this a lot internally,” Harrison said on The Fighter vs. The Writer. “I get a lot of negative feedback, and I guess you could call it hate, and [I am] trolled that I’m a can crusher. That’s a very repetitive thing in my life — ‘Oh you’re a can crusher, you’re a can crusher.’
“Sometimes the people that tweet are really funny. They find memes of people stomping on cans, and it’s kind of funny, but you’re right. Even if you go to the UFC and you look at some of the girls’ records in the UFC, it’s not like we’re talking about these absolute monsters.”
Harrison disputes the notion that she hasn’t fought any tough opponents, especially with her pair of wins over fellow PFL veteran Larissa Pacheco.
Pacheco, who had a very brief two-fight run in the UFC, has gone 7-2 in her last nine fights, including a win over current UFC contender Karol Rosa. Pacheco’s only losses were in bouts against Harrison.
“To be quite frank with you, Larissa Pacheco, I’ve beaten her twice — I think she would beat [Cris] Cyborg right now,” Harrison said. “I think she might give Amanda [Nunes] a hard time right now. That’s not a knock on them, but you can’t judge level of competition.
“We’re all in different promotions. Let’s f*** around and find out. Let’s put us all together. Let’s find out. I’m not afraid to find out.”
Despite being signed to an exclusive deal with the PFL, Harrison has often talked about cross-promotion, hoping she could face the best fighters in the world. Lately, the two-time Olympic gold medalist in judo has made another concerted push to fight Bellator featherweight champion Cris Cyborg, though it doesn’t appear that is any closer to happening.
Obviously, Harrison has no control over the PFL, Bellator, or Cyborg. Still, she takes issue with the constant bombardment of complaints.
“I do get frustrated by that,” she said. “I do get frustrated by the knocks on competition, because it’s not really a knock on me. It’s a knock on them. Like, show some respect. These women work hard. They go in there and they put it on the line. None of these people who have anything to say do that. None of these people who talk s*** online do thats so for me, that’s frustrating.
“This is why a fight between me and one of them would be so great. You would have this seasoned veteran, bona fide GOAT. They’re GOAT’s of the game. They’ve been legends of the sport. They’re pioneers, they changed the game and they’ve been top dogs for a long time now. Then you have an up and coming hungry [fighter] – I would say that I’m a dominant fighter. I’ve had three decisions my entire career. My finish rate is pretty high, and I’m undefeated and I’m dominant. That’s what makes exciting fights. Is she really that good, or are they really that good? Who’s really that good? Hopefully, we’ll find out some day.”
Of course, Harrison heard everyone’s opinions when she re-signed a new deal with the PFL after a brief free agency period where she was one of the most sought-after athletes in the world. She was nearly a Bellator fighter with a showdown against Cyborg in the works until the PFL matched the deal and retained her.
Since then, PFL executives have been adamant about doing everything possible to get Harrison those marquee matchups she so desperately wants. But in the meantime, she’s one win away from another championship fight after already earning quite a hefty payday throughout the regular season.
Multiple people with knowledge of the promotion’s practices told MMA Fighting that Harrison currently earns $1 million per fight in the PFL, and while she declined to confirm or deny those figures, the 32-year-old Ohio native has no complaints about her financial standing right now.
“This is a business, but I am also a business and every single fighter is their own business,” Harrison said. “In order for a business to be successful, you have to know your worth. You have to have a genuine product. I believe in me. I believe in my product. I believe in my abilities and that is why I get paid what I get paid. That’s why the PFL also puts value on my services because I show up.
“No matter what’s going on in my life, if the day ends in ‘Y’ then Kayla Harrison is coming to f*** people up. That’s why I get paid the big bucks.”
Money aside, Harrison has always said her long term goal would be leaving the sport recognized as the greatest fighter of all time. She’s nowhere near that achievement yet, but she believes with enough time, she’ll get there.
“I believe that I can do it all,” Harrison said. “I believe that I can be the greatest of all time and I can stay true to myself and I can get paid a s*** load of money.”