The UFC‘s bantamweight champion Julianna Pena (11-4) is not a big fan of PFL‘s Kayla Harrison (12-0). A lot of this stems from Pena’s win over Amanda Nunes that came back in December when she captured the bantamweight title.
Harrison was in attendance and was visibly upset after the matchup. The general thought was that Pena’s win likely derailed a potential UFC contract for Harrison as the super-fight between Nunes and Harrison lost it’s luster with Nunes’ loss to Pena.
Harrison was a free agent after capturing her second PFL title and the UFC was interested. She came out and said that she could beat Julianna Pena with one arm chopped off after Pena defeated Nunes. Harrison also said that she would think about dropping to 135 pounds for that fight.
Now, Harrison has further clarified that the comment regarding bantamweight was more tongue and cheek. Nevertheless, she got the UFC champion’s attention and Pena pulled no punches. Pena appeared on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani earlier this week and she made it clear how she feel’s about the PFL star.
UFC vs PFL
The UFC champion said, “How easy is it to say that you’ll beat Julianna with one-hand tied behind your back then turn around and sign a seven-year deal with the PFL. It’s easy to talk shit when you know nothing is going to happen. She just signed her life away to the PFL. Best of luck with that, make your career off of beating tomato cans, that’s great.”
The message was strong and very clear from the champion. I want to come right out and say that I’m a fan of Kayla Harrison. She’s a star in the PFL for a reason and I’m a big fan. That being said, there’s really nothing wrong about what Julianna Pena said in regards to the competition level.
Let’s be honest, Kayla Harrison has no challenges in the PFL. Sure, they signed Julia Budd. However, she’s not fighting Cris Cyborg. She’s not fighting Amanda Nunes. The competition level is just not there and because of that, she’s likely never going to get the shine that she could if she was in Bellator or the UFC.
Now, you can point to Cyborg and Nunes’ current competition at 145 pounds in their promotions. That’s a fair point, however, they did get those big fights against the biggest names throughout their career. Their legacies are set in stone, meanwhile Harrison is still trying to build hers in the PFL.
Unless PFL makes big signings, Harrison is going to go undefeated in her career, but she’ll never be looked at as one of the very best to ever do it. The resume will be lacking compared to someone like Amanda Nunes or even Julianna Pena.