After the Professional Fighters League purchased Bellator MMA earlier this month, one of the main topics of conversation was whether fight fans would finally get to see a matchup between two of the biggest names in women’s MMA, Kayla Harrison, and Cris Cyborg. While that fight could come to fruition, it is not something the PFL sees in the cards for early 2024.
With the two organizations under the same banner, the first order of business for PFL and Bellator seems to be to have the champions from each organization face each other. At least, that’s what PFL founder Donn Davis had in mind following Saturday’s PFL World Championship fight card that saw six PFL fighters earn or retain PFL gold following the conclusion of the 2023 PFL season tournament.
One of the fighters to pick up a new belt was Larissa Pacheco. Pacheco, who is on a 10-fight winning streak with her decision win over Marina Mokhnatkina, became a two-division PFL champion, adding the featherweight title to her trophy case. In 2022, Pacheco defeated Harrison by unanimous decision to claim the lightweight crown. The loss was the first of Harrison’s career and came after she defeated Pacheco by decision twice in 2019.
“It’s champ versus champ,” Davis said after the event. “Larissa’s earned that, but then will Cris fight Kayla in 2024? One hundred percent, that is going to happen. Cris will have two fights in 2024. Kayla will have two fights in 2024. One of those will be Cris against Kayla, but we think that Larissa’s earned that.
“Once again, you have to give them champ versus champ. Cris is the champ of Bellator, Larissa’s the champ here, so you’ve got to see that fight happen first, and then coming out of that, you’ll see Cris Cyborg against Kayla Harrison as the next fight in 2024.”
With Cyborg competing in professional MMA since 2005, Davis admitted that retirement could be in the cards for the 38-year-old Bellator featherweight champion. Still, Davis said that’s not something he sees in the cards for Cyborg right now.
“I think she signed a big contract,” Davis said of Cyborg. “I think she wants to add to her legacy. I don’t think she needs to do anything to earn her legacy. Her record speaks for itself. She’s one of two, three, or four, the best to have ever done it in the female MMA community, but I think she’d love the opportunity.”