Kayla Harrison reacts to Cris Cyborg training with Holly Holm for UFC 300, sends message to bantamweights

Kayla Harrison may never get to fight Cris Cyborg, but she still can’t escape the former UFC and Strikeforce featherweight champion.

Harrison and the Brazilian legend circled one another over a potential fight for years, however Harrison signing with the UFC and moving down to bantamweight seemingly ended whatever glimmer of hope remained for making it happen. Yet even as Harrison prepares for her octagon debut at UFC 300, she still has to hear that same old name, as Cyborg traveled to New Mexico to help Holly Holm prepare to face Harrison on April 13.

“She just loves to stir the f****** pot, doesn’t she?” Harrison said when asked about Cyborg training with Holm during a UFC 300 fan Q&A. “Go home already, nobody cares.”

Harrison may not have much nice to say about Cyborg, but the same can’t be said about Holm. After signing with the UFC, Harrison welcomed any challenge the promotion threw at her, but she was honored to get the chance to face someone like Holm, who’s a former UFC bantamweight champion and member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

“I don’t use the word legend lightly, but I think Holly is very much a legend in the sport,” Harrison said. “She’s been in the top 10 for years now, been a former champ. I didn’t come over here to just see how I can do and fight amongst everyone.

“I’m here to come over and win a UFC title and finish my career on top. So Holly’s a good start to that.”

Harrison’s move to UFC came with some surprise considering she fought the majority of her MMA career at 155 pounds, plus a one-off at featherweight. The move down to 135 pounds serves as arguably her toughest test yet, but she promises she’s ready for the challenge.

To add to that, the two-time Olympic gold medalist always wanted to add a UFC title to her résumé. She knew the only way to do that was cutting down to the bantamweight division.

“I mean, when I first started MMA, the goal was always to become UFC champion,” Harrison said. “It’s been a lot of highs and lows, some bumps along the way, but ultimately this was the goal when I came to MMA. I knew that whatever contract I signed was probably going to be the last contract I sign. If not now, then when? I’m ready, I’m willing, I’m able.

“I don’t want to look back and be 70 years old and say, ‘F***, I wish I had given it a shot.’ It’s time to go, baby.”

Harrison acknowledged nothing will come easy in her first appearance at bantamweight, but she expects that the risk is worth the reward.

“Really, bantamweight became a reality and is going to become a reality on April 12,” Harrison said. “It’s not something that I had considered before, but I knew whatever contract I signed was going to be the last contract. This opportunity arose. I don’t want to look back on my life and say, ‘What if, what if, what if.’

“Yes, it’s a sacrifice. Yes, it sucks. I miss pizza, I miss cookies, I miss brownies. But I do believe that UFC gold will be worth it.”

As far as winning gold, Harrison declined to say whether she’s been promised a title shot with a win over Holm at UFC 300. It would nonetheless be awfully hard to deny her that, especially with the attention she’s received since signing with the organization.

Rather than leave it up to chance, Harrison said she’ll leave no doubt she’s the most deserving person for a title shot after she gets through Holm at UFC 300. She also sent a rather emphatic message to the rest of the bantamweight division now that she’s arrived.

“My focus is on April 13, UFC 300, Las Vegas, live, Holly Holm and me are going to throw down in the cage,” Harrison said. “I plan on putting on such beating that they have no choice but to give me the title shot after that. It’s in my hands.”

“My thoughts [on the bantamweight division] are there’s a new sheriff in town, and on April 13, everybody is going to find out.”

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