It’s no secret that Kayla Harrison is the face of the Professional Fighter’s League (PFL).
Ahead of the promotion’s current season, Harrison tested the free agency waters where she accepted a contract with Bellator to challenge Cris “Cyborg” Justino for the Featherweight title on April 23, 2022, in Honolulu, Hawaii. However, this didn’t end up happening as the PFL matched Bellator’s contract offer and Harrison re-signed with her nearly-exclusive mixed martial arts (MMA) home. Cyborg instead went on to rematch Arlene Blencowe and win a unanimous decision (watch highlights).
Ultimately for Bellator, it came down to who needed Harrison more, says the promotion’s president, Scott Coker.
“Kayla needs a fight of that stature to really put herself in that upper echelon because I believe she is great but she hasn’t been proven yet,” Coker said on the Spinning Back Fist podcast. “She hasn’t been tested yet. She hasn’t been hit on the chin yet. Those are things that Cyborg will answer. You don’t really know how great she can be, we all have opinions about it and my opinions are very high on her but until she gets that first right hand or left hook on the jaw, we don’t really know.
“For them, she’s their biggest star,” he continued. “For us, she would be one of the fighters we would put into our organization of great fighters we have, right? It meant a lot more to them to have her and keep her there than maybe for us to overpay, you know, we’re gonna make good business decisions as we’re running this company.”
Despite Harrison staying put, the PFL has been very vocal about the possibility of still making a fight with Cyborg a reality. With the 2022 season underway and Harrison having already picked up her first win, the expectation would be for the fantasy matchup to take place in early 2023 when Harrison joins the PFL’s new pay-per-view series.
“You want to have a conversation? Please call me then we’ll try to figure out,” Coker said. “If we can, we can. If we can’t, we can’t. But to me, it’s like look, if it makes business sense, I’m all about things that make business sense. But I’m not gonna do it online and take it all over social media when it’s like you’re trying to make a deal with somebody and then you don’t want to talk to them? To me, it’s really up to them.”
Did Bellator drop the ball by not getting Kayla Harrison?
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