Towards the start of this year, it appeared as if the blossoming social media feud between Harrison and Cyborg was on track to reach the cage, with then-free agent Harrison appearing close to signing with Bellator.
But after the rising PFL promotion exercised its right to match clause, Harrison remained in the SmartCage, and the two stars went about their business separately, briefly stalling a rivalry that has seen the former UFC champ downplay Harrison’s record and the former judoka doubt Cyborg’s chances against PFL competition in return.
While Harrison returned to her old stomping ground for another dose of regular season action, where she went 2-0 en route to securing a playoff spot, Cyborg continued her dominance under the Bellator banner, defeating Arlene Blencowe for the second time at the Bellator 279 event in April.
But interestingly, Cyborg’s sole appearance of 2022 marked the final fight of her deal with the promotion. So, while Harrison entered the year as the sport’s biggest free agent, rather fittingly, her cross-promotional rival has taken that mantle midway through.
And according to CEO Peter Murray, the PFL is hoping to form some sort of deal having already made contact with the legendary Brazilian fighter.
Murray: There’s Been “Outreach” For Cyborg/Harrison Fight
During a recent appearance on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Murray spoke about the much-discussed potential clash between Harrison and Cyborg, both of whom have expressed interest in sharing the cage.
Though it previously appeared like Bellator could be the frontrunner to host the showdown, Murray noted that his promotion is keen to become a driving force behind it. And having become aware of Cyborg’s apparently uncertain status, the CEO says there’s been “outreach” about organizing a matchup between the Brazilian and the PFL’s biggest star.
“Listen, I think that’s the fight that fans would like to see,” Murray said. “That’s a fight that the PFL would like to get behind. Kayla said she wants that fight. I think it’s going to come down to Cris Cyborg — does Cris Cyborg want that fight? And whether Cris decides to come over to the PFL to make that fight and perhaps other fights happen, that’s one scenario. And another scenario is a co-promotion. And we’re proponents of both.
“Our understanding is she is a free agent. We’d like to make that fight happen,” Murray continued. “There’s certainly been outreach. We’re looking forward to getting into it in earnest… There’s no dancing [around it]. It’s not a surprise, or it’s not new news that this is a fight to PFL would like to make happen or Kayla. And so I think in the coming weeks we’re looking forward to seeing what’s possible.” (h/t MMA Fighting)
The prospect of the PFL and Bellator MMA working together in a cross-promotion capacity — should Cyborg re-sign, that is — is certainly not as distant a possibility as it might have been a number of years ago.
Bellator chief Coker has appeared more than willing to do business with other organizations, most recently giving the green light for Michael “Venom” Page to bare-knuckle box Mike Perry under the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship banner.
For now, though, Harrison has her sights set on the upcoming PFL playoffs, which will see her face Martina Jindrová in the semifinals at the August 20 event, set for London, England, on the same night as MVP vs. Perry.
Having noted that this year will mark her final time as part of the PFL’s seasonal structure, with future pay-per-view events being the target, the stage could be set for Harrison vs. Cyborg in 2023.
Would you like to see Cris Cyborg head to the PFL SmartCage to face Kayla Harrison?