PFL founder Donn Davis laments blown opportunity to book Kayla Harrison vs. Cris Cyborg fight

PFL founder Donn Davis laments missed opportunity to book Kayla Harrison vs. Cris Cyborg fight

PFL founder Donn Davis was disappointed to lose Kayla Harrison but remains confident that the promotion will get along just fine without her.

After securing her 16th career win against Aspen Ladd at the 2023 PFL World Championships last year, Davis was under the impression that Harrison had one more fight on her contract. Then suddenly, his star was gone. The two-time Olympic gold medalist unceremoniously walked away from the PFL to sign with the UFC. Scheduled to make her promotional debut on April 13 at UFC 300, Harrison is set to square off with former bantamweight women’s champion Holly Holm.

Holly Holm vs. Kayla Harrison

Speaking on Harrison’s exit during an appearance on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Davis offered his honest take on what happened between the two parties and his reaction to losing their biggest star.

“I don’t know,” Davis said. “And I talked to Kayla, and I believe Kayla and I have a very good relationship, and I don’t know [what happened]. So I can only speculate and I don’t really like to speculate about things that are about other people.

“So one, I don’t know, and two, I’m disappointed. So I think – unlike Dana [White] when he talks about other fighters, tends to be negative if they leave, tends to be negative if they don’t do what UFC wants them to do – here, I’m disappointed. PFL, in six years, has never lost a fighter, and remember, in year one and year two and year three, PFL was not a strong company. We’re a new company, so there were many reasons for fighters to leave and they never did. Now, did we release up fighters? Yes. Did we upgrade fighters? Yes, because we were always getting better. Never had a fighter leave, so this is the first time in six years.

“And ironically, PFL had never been stronger and the matchups we had for Kayla Harrison, were better than the matchups she was going to get at UFC. She was going to fight Cris Cyborg, which I believe is the biggest fight available in the women’s division possible. It’s a legacy, career statement fight for her. [Then] Larisa Pacheco, who beat her fair and square. So Kayla’s, call it next two to three fights at PFL are harder than they are at UFC, are bigger than they are at UFC. So I don’t know. I really can’t explain her motivations for leaving, and I was disappointed.”

Making her PFL debut in 2018, Kayla Harrison amassed an impressive 16-1 record with all, but one of her fights coming inside the Smart Cage. Despite coming up short for the first time against Larissa Pacheco in the 2022 PFL women’s lightweight final, Harrison was still primed for a clash with reigning Bellator women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg.

READ MORE:  Jiri Prochazka makes case for title fight with win over Aleksandar Rakic after UFC 300: 'I deserve it'

The fight was all, but guaranteed after the PFL absorbed Bellator late last year, but with Harrison’s move to the UFC, there’s a strong possibility that we will never see Harrison vs. Cyborg come to fruition.

Will Kayla Harrison ever fight Cris Cyborg?

Donn Davis believes the PFL will get along just fine without Kayla Harrison

It’s an unfortunate realization for Davis, but he remains confident that the promotion will move forward and establish itself as the co-leader of mixed martial arts in the coming years rather than continuing to be a distant second to Dana White and Co.

“That being said, because PFL has never been stronger – 80 fighters ranked in the top 25, 33 fighters ranked in the top 15 – we’re fine,” Davis explained. “It’s almost like when people post about UFC, they’re always fine if Connor’s not fighting this year or something like that. So our brand, our ratings, our financials, zero impact to Kayla not being here.

“But personally, I don’t like when any fighter leaves. So I wish she was here.”

Kayla Harrison