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Kayla Harrison has UFC’s offer but ‘PFL is definitely the frontrunner’

Multiple promotions are vying for a chance to sign Olympic judo gold medalist Kayla Harrison. Here’s her update on how free agency is going.

USOC Portraits for Rio2016 Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Where will Olympic gold medalist Kayla Harrison end up?

With the UFC always touting the fact that it has the best fighters, you’d think Harrison would be a no-brainer to finally start developing the equivilant of a women’s heavyweight division, perhaps stacking them with other international Olympians.

Alas, with a potential Amanda Nunes vs. Kayla Harrison fight up in smoke after Nunes dropped her latest title defense to Julianna Pena, it sounds like Harrison will return to the PFL where she’s been collecting million dollar checks. During Friday night’s Eagle FC event, Harrison admitted the Professional Fight League was the frontrunner.

“At this point, I got the offer from the UFC and I know what it is,” Harrison said in an interview with MMA Junkie. “I think timing wise just because certain things are going to happen with Amanda and Julianna, etcetera, etcetera. You know, timing is kind of everything in the sport.”

“PFL is definitely the frontrunner,” she continued. “Bellator ... we spoke to them and I don’t know the exact details of what was said between [my manager] and them, but I know what I had proposed so that doesn’t look like it’s going to … we’ll see what happens.”

The obvious fight with Bellator would be against Cris Cyborg, so we wonder how her plans and Bellator’s might differ. With the UFC it was obvious what the promotion wanted: a showdown between Nunes and Harrison. When Julianna Pena wrecked that at UFC 269, Kayla Harrison was cageside screaming obscenities.

According to her, it had less to do with a big money superfight going up in smoke and more about seeing her American Top Team teammate Nunes lose.

“There was a viral video of my screaming ‘f*ck,’ but it was mostly because I was in shock and I was bummed for her,” she said. “But what Amanda does in her career has no barring on my career. I have a ton of respect for her as a fighter, as a mom, and a human being. But my journey is my journey. She knows I want to be the best.”

“It changes things a little bit because now they’re going to have a rematch and that rematch is going to take a while for it to happen. So why would I run to the UFC and sit there and wait if that’s going to happen?”

An interesting wrinkle in that whole story was that Nunes ended up leaving American Top Team following her loss to Pena. Was “The Lioness” feeling lost in the mix of all the other talent at the gym, or was this a reaction to potential future opponent Kayla Harrison now being there?