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Kayla Harrison accepted Bellator 279 fight with Cris Cyborg: ‘It’s funny that she knew’

What could have been ...

ARLINGTON, TEXAS — Kayla Harrison is staying with the Professional Fighter’s League (PFL) for the foreseeable future. However, that was extremely close to not being the case.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist in Judo has made it abundantly clear that she wants to test herself against the best mixed martial arts (MMA) has to offer. One of those around her weight, Cris Cyborg, has also expressed interest in squaring off with Harrison. Just recently defending her Bellator Featherweight crown against Arlene Blencowe at Bellator 279 on April 22, 2022, in Hawaii, Harrison revealed it very well could have been her.

Earlier this week, Cyborg shared her thoughts on the continually discussed fantasy bout and how she, “knew it wasn’t going to happen.”

“I think it’s funny that she knew [our fight wasn’t going to happen] because I accepted a contract with Bellator to fight her on April 22 in Hawaii and PFL matched the offer,” Harrison told media, including MMAMania.com, during 2022 PFL 3 Media Day on Tuesday (May 4, 2022). “There was no negative things toward the PFL, I’ve just made it very clear that I want to test myself against the best while they’re the best. PFL had the right to match, they did, I’m super happy with the contract, I’m super happy to be back home. I’m super excited for this season, I think that next year we’re gonna do really big things but my focus, for now, is Marina Mokhnatkina and one fight at a time, one round at a time, one minute at a time, one exchange at a time and go out there and instill my will.”

This Friday night (May 6, 2022), Harrison makes her first appearance back in the PFL cage since her free agency saga this offseason. The two-time Lightweight titleholder faces former Bellator Featherweight out of Russia, Marina Mokhnatkina, in the evening’s main event.

“We spent time studying the film and obviously we spent a lot more time on leg locks than I’ve ever spent in a camp,” Harrison said. “I was going with Mateusz Gamrot, if you’ve ever had that guy on your leg, you really don’t want it (laughs). So I feel pretty confident about that. ‘Big Jim’ over here, I’m gonna throw him under the bus. He had a really, really good line about Sambo. He goes, ‘Sambo! Sambo’s for people who couldn’t make it in Judo!’ Anyways, that’s how I feel about that.”


MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE results and real-time play-by-play coverage of the entire PFL 3 main card right here, which begins at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and ESPN+. We’ll also provide quick results for the “Prelims” undercard on ESPN+, which will start streaming at 6 p.m. ET.

For more PFL 2022 news and notes click here.