Fort Lauderdale, FL — PFL promotional darling Kayla Harrison has two major milestones on the horizon: a second championship in the Professional Fighters League, and free agency.
Questions surrounding the latter often overshadow the former, despite the fact that Harrison (11-0) still has to win her women’s lightweight final atop the PFL 2021 World Championship card this Wednesday.
As for when she’ll turn her focus to free agency, “that’s for my manager to deal with,” Harrison told media outlets including Cageside Press during a media day on Monday. “My job is to focus on October 27, Taylor Guardado. She’s no slouch, she’s coming to take my head off, and I’m coming to do the same.”
As much as the fight matters most, it’s clear that Harrison’s star has outgrown the PFL. And despite her own claims to the contrary, she’d be almost a perfect fit for the pro wrestling world, if she wasn’t so gosh darn good at fighting.
Harrison downplayed the suggestion of future appearances for AEW, the two-year old wrestling promotion that has begun to give WWE a run for its money.
“Like no joke, have you seen some of those guys? Look at [Chris] Jericho. He’s an old washed up has-been, long-haired bum, and I would eat him for breakfast,” quipped Harrison. “It’s too easy.”
When it was mentioned that Harrison sounded like she was cutting a promo, the Olympian protested, exclaiming “it’s not even a promo, this is how I really feel! Jericho don’t want this, trust me.”
Don’t trust her. Harrison has spent a lot of time alongside American Top Team head coach Dan Lambert, who doubles as an on-air heel for All Elite Wrestling. She might not have much interest in pursuing a pro wrestling career, but she’s definitely dipped into the wrestling playbook, going over the top on the mic following her fights this season — no doubt well aware that free agency is looming, and a higher profile translates to more dollars.
Harrison has appeared on AEW television once previously, and like a smart businesswoman, just set herself up for a possible payday down the line with her Jericho comment.
It’s more likely, however, that another three-letter organization is in Harrison’s future: the UFC. Yet despite the obvious allure that a ready-made star would have for the promotion, UFC President Dana White recently suggested that Harrison stay where she is.
“They pay her an obscene amount of money to fight over there [in the PFL],” White told TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter. “If I was her, I’d stay right where she is and keep picking off the people over there. When you come here, Amanda Nunes is no joke. [Valentina] Shevchenko is no joke. Rose Namajunas is no [joke]— these are all the best women in the world. These are the best female fighters in the world.”
Make no mistake, for White, this is a public negotiation. Harrison stands to make her second million with the PFL is she wins later this month. The UFC isn’t accustomed to paying fighters not named McGregor, Rousey, or Lesnar that sort of money. Hence White publicly questioning Harrison’s value.
Harrison gave her response during Monday’s media scrum. “Thanks for the advice Uncle Dana. Appreciate you,” she retorted, revealing that she had met White “one time, and it was a super-awkward, weird— that’s a story for another time. But again, my job is to focus on October 27. I really don’t care what other people have to say about me or my career or my choices or my options. I’m going to do what’s best for me. And that’s it.”
She’s not surprised, however, at White’s approach. “No, because that’s what he does. That’s his job. I’m going to talk about how I’m the greatest of all time, and he’s going to talk about how ‘well, calm down, no you’re not.'”
“This is a game. This is a business. The difference is, I really am going to be the greatest of all time,” finished Harrison, “so he’s gonna see.”
Watch the full PFL 2021 World Championship media day appearance from Kayla Harrison above. More coverage can be found below. The event takes place this Wednesday, October 27, 2021 in Hollywood, FL.