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Kayla Harrison says she got ‘favorable’ new PFL deal, repeats highest paid female fighter ever claim

Kayla Harrison repeated her manager’s claim that she is the “highest” paid female fighter “ever.”

Kayla Harrison celebrates after winning the gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Kayla Harrison celebrates after winning the gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Recently, manager Ali Abdelaziz made quite a bold claim about two-time PFL tournament winner Kayla Harrison. In a nutshell, Abdelaziz declared Harrison as the “highest” paid female fighter “ever.”

“The highest-paid male fighter in the UFC is Conor McGregor. Number two is Kamaru Usman. Everybody else? I guarantee you, Kayla Harrison makes more money than all these other two guys I just mentioned. Guarantee you,” he said in a recent interview.

Without giving the specifics of her new PFL deal, Harrison recently spoke with TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter to confirm Abdelaziz’s claims.

“I do think so, yes,” Harrison said of her manager’s previous claim. “I was lucky in that sense and again, not to go into the specifics of this contract, but it is very favorable to me. I’m gonna be able to go in, to do what I love, to fight for the PFL, to fight for another title, and fight in this season.

“And then, hopefully, continue to build my legacy with the PFL, fighting big names, whether it’s cross-promotion, co-promotion. Whether it’s bringing in fighters however it may be. And I’m gonna have freedom after that.”

Harrison re-signed with the PFL last week after the promotion successfully matched offers from other organizations. The Olympic gold medalist also credited her current employers for stepping up “in a big way.”

“I was, what you would call in other sports, a restricted free agent,” she explained. “I had the right to go out and look for other options. I had the right to field options from other promotions, find something that I was happy with, happy to taking and accepting.

“But then as part of my contract, I would then present it to the PFL, and they had the last right to either match that contract or say, ‘OK, we can’t match that, best of luck.’

“I found a contract that I was super happy with. I sent it to the PFL and they stepped up in a big way and matched that contract. So here we are.”

While there’s no reason to doubt that Harrison got a “favorable” and lucrative deal, the highest-paid female fighter “ever” claim is still worth questioning given the concrete figures we do know. They didn’t give any specifics on Harrison’s deal, but we do know that Ronda Rousey got $3 million as her base pay, plus around $1.8 million in PPV bonus for UFC 207 alone. Does Harrison make more than that amount for each fight?

PFL CEO Peter Murray also spoke with Bronsteter in the same interview where he revealed some of the company’s business methods. Referring to the PFL as a “fighters first organization,” Murray laid out the three major things they provide their fighters: top talent, a global stage, and the opportunity to earn more money.

“Our approach, even with athletes… the PFL, we live partnership,” Murray explained, “We’re creating this great league and reimagining growing the sport through partnering. First, with the athletes. And then our business partners and the media space, and the sponsorship space, and otherwise.

“So, we’re looking forward to partnering with athletes in this super-fight pay-per-view division where candidly, they can earn more money and have more participation than anyone to date has provided.

“Fighters will actually make a larger percentage of buys in our model than has ever been executed in the past. It’s called skinning the game.”

Murray also made even more bold claims by saying the PFL is “on par” with the UFC in terms of distribution, and that they’ve “surpassed Bellator on every metric.” The PFL, according to Murray, is distributed on premium sports platforms and to 160 countries.

Harrison’s signing is just in time for the 2022 season of the PFL, which kicks off on April 20.