PFL CEO slams UFC and Dana White ahead of potential bidding for Kayla Harrison

Tomorrow night, the PFL Championship event is being headlined by the biggest name in the promotion, Kayla Harrison (11-0). The two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and two-time defending PFL lightweight champion will look to capture her third championship.

Standing in her way is Taylor Guardado (3-1) who was also perfect in the 2021 PFL season. However, little to no one is giving her a chance to defeat Harrison tomorrow. In fact, most aren’t expecting her to even last a round with Harrison.

Harrison is also fighting the final fight on her PFL contract tomorrow night. Once the championship match is over, all eyes will turn to her free agency. Bellator and the UFC will definitely come calling as Harrison is already one of the best to ever do it.

With Bellator, there’s the potential matchup with Cris Cyborg and with the UFC, there’s the potential fight with the GOAT, Amanda Nunes. The UFC President is very familiar with Harrison, but he issued some advice to Harrison with her free agency looming.

White suggested that Harrison stay in PFL where she can make a lot of money while beating no one of significance. Suggesting that the UFC might be too much. Harrison responded this week saying she will prove to White that she’s the greatest fighter of all time.

PFL CEO Slams UFC

These comments from White caught the eye of PFL CEO Donn Davis. Let’s just say that Davis didn’t take too kindly to the comments from White and told MMA Fighting today that at PFL, the stars are the fighters and not the promoter.

Davis said, “I think that’s what they do in the UFC. They do two things: They try to put fighters down to increase their leverage, and they try to make it all about them and not the fighters. We don’t do that here. We know the fighters are the stars, not the promoter. They forget that. The fighters are the stars, not the promoter.”

Davis went on to say that in the PFL, they just let the fighting do the talking and skip all the politics. In a way, he’s not wrong. When you fight in the PFL, you are controlling your own destiny with the way you fight and if you win, you will advance.

However, there’s also some major drawbacks to this style like losing out on seeing fights that everyone wants to see. A major fight could be derailed if one of the two were to lose in an opening round matchup. On the other hand, that’s an aspect that also makes PFL intriguing.

PFL is doing their part to try and increase the competition level for Harrison. They’ve signed Claressa Shields and Julia Budd in the last year for the lightweight and featherweight division. Harrison has made it clear that her goal is to be the greatest of all time and competition fuels her.

I’m incredibly intrigued to see what happens with Harrison’s free agency. PFL will likely bring forth the most money, however, they won’t bring the best competition given the current landscape. So will Harrison take the money or will she go the route of Michael Chandler and go for legacy? Time will tell.

Free agency looms for Kayla Harrison ahead of PFL Finals

MMA, PFL

Tomorrow night in the main event of PFL‘s tenth event of the 2021 season, we will see the finals for the women’s lightweight division. The massive favorite, Kayla Harrison (11-0), will look to remain perfect and pick up her third straight PFL championship.

Standing in her way is Taylor Guardado (3-1) who will be looking to pick up the massive upset. Guardado lost her professional debut last year, but a perfect PFL season at 3-0 has earned her a spot in the finals against the Olympic Gold Medalist and two-time PFL champion.

While Guardado is a good opponent, there’s more focus on what comes after the fight for Kayla Harrison. No disrespect to Guardado, but I can’t see any scenario where Harrison walks out of the cage tomorrow night without capturing her third PFL championship.

That is the general consensus in the MMA community which is why the focus of this week is about what comes next. Once the PFL finals are over tomorrow night, Kayla Harrison is officially a free agent and she’s the best female free agent MMA has ever seen.

Will Harrison stay with PFL?

Harrison has competed at 155 pounds for the entirety of her career with PFL. However, last year, she cut down to 145 pounds to show the world that she’s very capable of making the featherweight limit which opens the doors for a couple of superfights.

PFL is obviously wanting to retain her and they’re trying to make the promotion even more attractive from a competition standpoint. They recently signed Julia Budd (15-3) and Budd will be making her debut tomorrow night for the promotion. Budd was a longstanding champion in Bellator.

Speaking of Bellator, they will be calling Harrison with the dream of Harrison fighting one of the greatest of all time in Cris Cyborg (24-2). Harrison has always wanted to fight Cyborg and was frustrated when PFL didn’t sign her following her release from the UFC.

And speaking of the UFC, that is where the biggest fight of all is. The fight I’m referring to would pair Harrison against her teammate and the greatest female fighter of all time, Amanda Nunes (21-4). Nunes is the two-division UFC champion who is widely considered to be the best ever.

Harrison wants the world to view her as the greatest of all time. She told the media this week that she’s going to be following some comments from UFC president Dana White who advised her to stay with PFL and continue beating up on less competition.

Harrison took the comments in stride as she knows the game. The PFL champion knows the game and she knows how to play it. Where she ends up signing will be one of the biggest MMA storylines between tomorrow night and the end of 2021.

Fedor turned back the clock at Bellator 269

Fedor Emelianenko

This past Saturday in the main event of Bellator 269, Fedor Emelianenko (40-6) returned home to Russia to take on the tough Tim Johnson (15-8). Despite fighting in his homeland, many considered Fedor to be the underdog on Saturday night.

Johnson had a sensational 2020 that led him to an interim Bellator heavyweight title fight earlier this year. Meanwhile Fedor has struggled with Bellator heavyweights having gone just 3-2 leading up to Saturday night.

That said, there was still some mystique surrounding The Last Emperor as he walked to the cage on Saturday. The Russian crowd all on their feet with their eyes glued on their national hero who put Russian MMA on the map.

The fight started out with Fedor bouncing on his toes with his hands low. He looked good and was still looking to fight with the same style he had been fighting with his entire career. There were a few exchanges between him and Johnson where it looked like either man could’ve won by knockout had they landed.

Then, just a few minutes into the first at Bellator 269, Fedor turned back the clock. A beautiful left hook followed by a blistering right flattened Tim Johnson. No follow up shots were needed as Fedor picked up the KO win as the Russian crowd erupted.

What’s next after Bellator 269?

Scott Coker said last week that Saturday night was the first leg of a two-fight retirement tour for Fedor. Fedor is wrapping up his historic career with Bellator, but there is no word yet on who Fedor will fight in his next matchup.

Coker told the media on Saturday that Fedor will likely fight early next year or in the spring. That is when we will see Fedor compete for the final time in the Bellator cage. Fedor told the media afterwards that he needs to discuss his fighting future with his family.

To me, it’s going to be interesting to see who Bellator pairs him with. Honestly, Saturday night would’ve been the perfect fight to walk away on. A huge knockout win over a top contender in his home country. However, that doesn’t appear to be the plan and we should know sooner than later when we’ll see Fedor for the final time.

Bellator 269 Preview: Fedor Emelianenko – Tim Johnson

Fedor Emelianenko

Tomorrow in the main event of Bellator 269, the legend Fedor Emelianenko (39-6) will be fighting in his home of Russia as he takes on Tim Johnson (15-7). The fight is Fedor’s first matchup in almost two years.

Fedor Emelianenko last made the walk back in December of 2019 at Bellator 237 when he took on Rampage Jackson. Emelianenko was able to pick up the first round knockout that night that moved him to 3-2 overall in Bellator.

It’s no secret that we truly never saw the best version of Emelianenko in the US. The best version of Fedor was the Pride Fedor, but that man is long gone. Now, at 44 years old, we could be looking at the last time that we ever see Fedor compete.

He doesn’t have any easy task in front of him tomorrow in Tim Johnson. Johnson has really turned things around since moving to Bellator. In 2020, he went on a sensational run that saw him go 3-0 with wins over Tyrell Fortune, Matt Mitrione, and Cheick Kongo.

Those wins earned him a shot at the interim Bellator heavyweight title against Valentin Moldavsky. Ultimately, he fell short in that matchup, but he’s still right there in the title picture for the heavyweight crown.

Bellator 269 Prediction

When thinking about this matchup, I think about the Fedor of old. No disrespect to Tim Johnson, but I think about the fact that nobody would even give him a shot against Prime Fedor if Prime Fedor was fighting at Bellator 269.

That said, the man he will be facing tomorrow has shown a suspect chin over his last few fights and I think that could come into play tomorrow night. Fedor Emelianenko has never been a big heavyweight and I think that can hurt him against Tim Johnson.

I’m expecting Johnson to make this fight ugly and try to grapple a bit with Emelianenko. Emelianenko still carries power and definitely carries a speed advantage. However, Johnson has been more active with a tougher schedule as of late. I think the legend gets put down in his home country tomorrow.

Prediction: Tim Johnson by TKO – Round 2

Sizing up the Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix Finale

Last weekend at Bellator 268 we saw the two semifinal matchups in the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix. In the co-main event, Corey Anderson (16-5) took on former light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader (28-7).

Meanwhile the main event consisted of Vadim Nemkov (15-2) defending his Bellator title against the alternate, Julius Anglickas (10-2). In the first matchup, Corey Anderson made quick work of Ryan Bader.

In a matchup that was supposed to be incredibly competitive, it was anything but. Anderson landed a big right hand in the opening minute and quickly stopped the Bellator heavyweight champion to punch his ticket to the finals.

The main event was the fight that surprised me the most. Nemkov was a massive favorite to successfully defend his Bellator title against Anglickas. However, it was Anglickas who struck first by dropping and hurting the champion.

Nemkov was able to weather the storm and hold on despite being hurt badly. Ultimately in the fourth round, Nemkov was able lock in a submission and get the win which booked his next title defense against Corey Anderson.

Bellator Grand Prix Finals

Last year, Corey Anderson was knocking on the door of a UFC title shot. He didn’t get that shot after he was knocked out by Jan Blachowicz and let go from his UFC contract after he requested a release. Anderson was signed by Bellator almost immediately.

Upon signing with Bellator, many thought Anderson would get an immediate title shot. However, that’s not what the promotion had in mind. Anderson dominated Melvin Manhoef in his debut before the promotion put together this Grand Prix.

When the Grand Prix was put together, the two best light heavyweights were being looked at as Anderson and Nemkov. Well, we will now see this highly anticipated matchup in the Bellator Grand Prix finals.

It’s going to be an interesting battle and whoever wins might just have a claim as the best light heavyweight in the world and not just in Bellator. Granted, Jan Blachowicz might have a lot to say about that. Either way, I’m incredibly intrigued and excited for this finale.

Bellator books Sergio Pettis – Kyoji Horiguchi

Bellator has booked a massive title fight for their bantamweight division. The promotion took to the Morning Kombat show today to announce that they had finalized a bantamweight title fight between Sergio Pettis (21-5) and Kyoji Horiguchi (29-3) for December 3rd.

This matchup will pair the Bellator champion (Pettis) against the RIZIN champion (Horiguchi). Many will recall that Horiguchi was the Bellator bantamweight champion as well when he defeated Darrion Caldwell back in 2019.

At that time, Horiguchi was already the RIZIN champion and the win over Caldwell gave him two championships. The two promotions had agreed to do a co-promotion with Horiguchi holding both titles.

However, after Horiguchi got hurt, Bellator moved on with crowning a new bantamweight champion. Juan Archuleta became the champion before ultimately losing the Bellator title to Sergio Pettis earlier this year.

Horiguchi had lost the RIZIN championship in his last fight of 2019. He returned in December of 2020 and avenged that loss while winning back that title. Now, he’s going to try and win back the Bellator title that he never lost.

Bellator vs RIZIN

Sergio Pettis has really taken off after leaving the UFC. Pettis was always touted for his skill and potential but never reached the top of the mountain in the UFC. That said, he was still able to defeat some of the best inside the octagon.

After becoming a free agent, Bellator signed Pettis to an exclusive deal. Since joining the promotion, he’s gone 3-0. The highlight of that stretch came at Bellator 258 when he took on Juan Archuleta for the bantamweight championship.

The two had a good fight, but Pettis was getting the better of things throughout. Ultimately, Pettis scored a decision win to become bantamweight champion. Now, he’s going to have his chance to defeat Horiguchi who never lost his title with Bellator.

After Bellator 268, does Corey Anderson have an argument for the best light heavyweight?

Corey Anderson

This past Saturday at Bellator 268, the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix resumed. In the co-main event of the evening, Ryan Bader (28-7) took on Corey Anderson (16-5). Bader was the former light heavyweight champion and is the current heavyweight champion.

This fight had a ton of hype behind it as both men have had similar paths to get to where they are today. After never quite reaching the mountain top in the UFC, both men have seen a tremendous amount of success in the Bellator cage.

Bader became a two-division champion and Corey Anderson has looked like a world-beater since making the jump last year. While this fight had a ton of hype behind it, the fight itself wasn’t very competitive and it didn’t last long.

In the opening minute, Anderson was able to catch Bader with a beautiful shot that put the heavyweight champion down. Anderson followed up with big shots and ultimately got the stoppage win and punching his ticket to the Bellator Grand Prix finals.

Is Bellator’s Anderson the best?

After the fight was over and Anderson had his hand raised at Bellator 268, many were saying that Anderson had an argument as the best light heavyweight. Not just in Bellator, but in the entire sport.

This argument was met with objection from the UFC light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz. Blachowicz took to Twitter today to remind everyone that he knocked out Anderson last year which was Anderson’s final fight in the UFC.

It’s worth noting that the fight between Anderson and Blachowicz was a rematch. Their first fight took place back in 2015 with Anderson getting the win. Anderson also holds a victory over Glover Teixeira who is challenging for the light heavyweight title in a couple of weeks.

We might very well be seeing the best version of Corey Anderson in Bellator. However, we have also seen the best version of Jan Blachowicz in the UFC as of late. Given that MMA is a, “What have you done for me lately?” kind of sport, my opinion is the best is still Blachowicz.

The resume for The Polish Power is just much better than Anderson’s over the last year. However, Anderson is at the very top of that list as well. He’s not just potentially the best light heavyweight in Bellator, he does have an argument for the best in the world regardless of promotion.

Bellator made a mistake with AJ McKee and Patricio Pitbull

AJ McKee

Last week, Scott Coker appeared on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Hour where he broke some Bellator news. One of the key pieces of news that he announced was that Patricio Pitbull (32-5) would be vacating the lightweight title to stay at featherweight.

His brother, Patricky Pitbull, would be fighting in November for the vacant lightweight title. This decision has been rumored for some time, but it wasn’t official until last week. Patricky is one of the top lightweights but with his brother holding the title, he was blocked.

Now with Patricio Pitbull giving up the Bellator title, Patricky will have his chance. Pitbull gave up the title in order to stay at his natural weight class of 145 pounds. He’s focused on getting a rematch with the champion, AJ McKee (18-0).

McKee and Pitbull met at Bellator 263 at the end of July. They met in the finals of the Featherweight Grand Prix with the title on the line. McKee completely dominated the fight and submitted Pitbull in the first round.

Given the career success of Pitbull in Bellator, everyone assumed that a rematch between the two would be next. However, the debate was around which weight class it would take place at. They fought at featherweight, but there was an option to run it back at 155.

Bellator’s Mistake

Coker told Helwani that Bellator is currently working booking the rematch between McKee and Pitbull. I don’t disagree with the booking and in fact, I believe it’s the right fight to make. However, I don’t like the decision to do it at featherweight.

AJ McKee has massive star potential for Bellator. He’s fought his entire career with the promotion and his star is just now really starting to shine. Yes, they didn’t fight long in the first fight, but I think it’s safe to say that McKee will be a sizeable favorite when they fight again.

If I was in the Bellator front office, I would have tried to make the fight happen at lightweight. McKee wants to move up eventually and this would’ve given him the opportunity to become the promotion’s champ-champ.

On one hand, I understand the logic of having them fight at 145 again. Pitbull was the greatest featherweight in the promotion’s history and he’s really never been a lightweight. He simply moved up to fight Michael Chandler and avenge a loss that his brother had.

If McKee defeats Pitbull again at 145, he will have taken over as the promotion’s greatest featherweight and then he can do whatever he wants. I understand both sides of the issue, I just wish Bellator would’ve booked the champion vs champion rematch. It’s the bigger fight with more on the line.

Bellator books Aaron Pico – Justin Gonzalez

Bellator has finalized a big time matchup featuring two of their best featherweight prospects. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto was the first to report yesterday that the promotion had finalized a matchup between Aaron Pico (8-3) and Justin Gonzalez (12-0).

The matchup will take place at Bellator 271 on November 12th. While many will of course focus on Aaron Pico for this matchup, there needs to be a lot of attention on “The J-Train” Justin Gonzalez.

Gonzalez will be making his second appearance with Bellator since signing with the promotion earlier this year. After starting out his career a perfect 9-0, Gonzalez got a shot on Dana White’s Contender Series back in 2019.

Gonzalez was able to win by decision, but that wasn’t enough to get a contract with the UFC. From there, Gonzalez went to LFA where he defeated the previously unbeaten Jake Childers. That win was enough for Bellator to come calling.

He made his debut back in June when he took on Ty-wan Claxton. It was a close fight, but Gonzalez was able to pick up the split decision win at Bellator 260. Now, he’s getting a high profile fight against the dangerous Aaron Pico.

Bellator title run for Pico?

There weren’t many prospects that have ever started MMA with the level of hype Aaron Pico had. Maybe Brock Lesnar but that’s not entirely fair considering Lesnar’s status with the WWE prior to jumping into MMA.

Pico was looked at as a prodigy and Bellator signed him before he even turned 18 years old. He made his professional debut in 2017 and proceeded to lose in 24 seconds. From there, he won four straight before getting knocked out in back-to-back fights.

After those losses, Pico switched things up and went to Jackson-Wink for his training. Since making that transition, Pico has now won four straight fights again. With this current streak, not a single fight has gone the distance.

Pico is getting closer and closer to a shot at Bellator gold. This is going to be a very tough matchup for him and given the undefeated status of Gonzalez, the winner might only be a win or two away from a title shot. This is definitely one to watch at Bellator 271.

Bellator 268 Preview: Benson Henderson – Brent Primus

Benson Henderson

Tomorrow night on the main card of Bellator 268, we will see a fun matchup in the lightweight division. Former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson (28-10) will look to snap a two-fight losing streak as he takes on former Bellator champion Brent Primus (10-2).

Henderson will be making the walk for the 11th time as a member of Bellator. The former UFC champion signed with the promotion back in 2016 while trying to compete in the welterweight division. During his time with Bellator, he’s gone 0-2 at 170.

However, he has gone 5-3 at lightweight which is his correct weight class. He was knocked out by Michael Chandler in August of 2020 which snapped a four-fight win streak. He’s been mentioning retirement, but before he does, he wants to wear Bellator gold.

The last time we saw Brent Primus was back in July when he lost a split decision to Islam Mamedov. Primus has spent virtually his entire career with Bellator having gone 8-2 with the promotion and during that stretch, defeated Michael Chandler for the lightweight title.

Primus would go on to lose to Chandler in the rematch, but he has tasted Bellator gold unlike Benson Henderson. This is a big matchup for both men as the lightweight division is crowning a new champion next month and this fight could prove to be a title eliminator.

Bellator 268 Prediction

This fight will be decided very early on for me. I know that Primus is going to try and take this fight to the ground. We’ve seen Henderson be someone who is extremely tough to take down when he’s on his game. If he’s on, he could be in for a good result at Bellator 268.

Henderson wants this fight to stay on the feet. If it does, I would expect a variety of kick attacks and distance strikes to score points. I don’t believe either of these men would put the other out on the feet so expect more of a tactical battle for points.

Don’t rule out Primus landing a takedown early, but the majority of this fight should take place on the feet. Because of that, I like Henderson in this matchup. If he’s motivated and on top of his game, I expect a decision win from him at Bellator 268.