Kayla Harrison continues to take names in the Professional Fighters League, recently dispatching lightweight Mariana Morais in under two minutes. Her name, already well established thanks to winning gold twice at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, continues to turn heads in the MMA world.
Dana White has been asked about her in the past. And it’s the usual hardball language we’re accustomed to seeing: like how the UFC is “another level.” But his stance seems to be softening if his latest interview is any indication.
“Yeah, I know her contract’s up soon,” White told the guys of Big Night Breaks. “I don’t know if she’s ready to come over here yet, or her people feel she’s ready to come over here yet, but when she is, we’re ready.”
With the UFC struggling to find top competition for Amanda Nunes, Harrison represents an intriguing option for ZUFFA. However, with Harrison providing the possibility for a money-fight, she might not come cheap.
Talking to Aaron Bronsteter of TSN earlier this month, White explained: “When she feels like she’s ready, I’m always looking for the best possible people to come in and fight. If you don’t think that we’ve offered her to come over. I just don’t know if her people think she’s ready yet. It’s a whole other level when you get here.”
This all seems to be code for a bidding war that would seem silly for Harrison to engage in. As Ben Fowlkes points out:
Wildest part about Dana White's comments on Kayla Harrison is, say he's right. Say we believe the level of UFC competition is really that much higher. She won the million-dollar tourney in her seventh pro fight. Probably will win it again this year. Why would she want to leave?— Ben Fowlkes (@benfowlkesMMA) May 12, 2021
Harrison definitely needs more time to hone her MMA skills. Nothing about her game, as elite on the ground as it is, screams ‘ready for Nunes.’ But this seems to be the game White is so good at leveraging: ‘what’s money compared to legacy and the thrill of competition?’ Of course. That’s easy for him to say.
Harrison’s next bout will likely take place on June 25, when the PFL puts on more regular season bouts feature their heavyweight and women’s lightweight divisions.