The Kayla Harrison free agency saga has finally come to an end as the two-time Olympic Judo champion has now re-signed with PFL on a multi-year basis. The Women’s Lightweight star has looked more and more impressive as time has gone on and has amassed a perfect 12-0 professional MMA record. She’s demolished each and every opponent that’s been put in front of her so far and has managed to secure not one, but two PFL world championships and million-dollar paydays.
The only criticisms that have been levied against her to date are the fact that she fights in a notoriously thin weightclass and she’s never fought in the world’s premier MMA promotion, the UFC. Kayla Harrison has had all but one of her professional MMA fights at Lightweight under the PFL banner, with the sole outlier being a trip to down to Featherweight at Invicta FC 43. Since her existing PFL contract expired however, she’s drawn serious attention from Dana White and the UFC. As is customary when any experienced fighter starts to deal with White publicly, he quickly began to put down her professional achievements. This naturally attracted some pushback from Harrison and PFL founder Donn Davis as they sought to defend herself and the promotion respectively.
When contract talks with the UFC started to get a little more in depth, she even went so far as to consider dropping all the way down to Bantamweight in order to fight the best they have to offer. As she weighed up the pros and cons of moving to the UFC, looking at both her legacy as a fighter and her financial compensation, Kayla Harrison came out publicly to say that PFL would need to offer her life-changing sums in order to keep her on the roster. Harrison then surprised everyone when she spoke to ESPN SportsCenter on Tuesday to reveal her decision and explain the reasons behind it:
“I think there were a lot of contract negotiations, there were a lot of offers, many of them very lucrative. 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 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.”
Kayla Harrison even decided to address the elephant in the room, namely the level of competition that she will face when fighting for PFL:
“On one hand, I don’t disagree with them. I get it. 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.”
To sum up, Harrison also explained that she’s happy to put the entire free agency saga in the rear-view mirror and get back to doing what she does best as the next PFL season starts:
“I’ve got four hard fights to win. 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.”