Larissa Pacheco: Cris Cyborg calling for UFC 300 slot a ‘cry for help’, unsure if Cyborg wants to fight her

Larissa Pacheco wonders if Cris Cyborg really wants to fight her.

PFL’s biggest event to date is set for Feb. 24 in Saudi Arabia, with a pay-per-view offering that features multiple clashes between PFL and Bellator champions after the two companies merged. But Pacheco is the only active PFL champion not added to the card.

Pacheco told MMA Fighting she was informed in early January that she will not be on the card and was OK with it since PFL guaranteed her that Cyborg and Kayla Harrison also wouldn’t be fighting each other. Harrison has since signed with the UFC to fight Holly Holm, and Cyborg competed in boxing before recently calling for a fight with the retired Amanda Nunes at UFC 300. Cyborg also mentioned facing Pacheco in a future PFL pay-per-view, but only after meeting Leah McCourt at the upcoming Bellator show in Ireland.

“I stepped aside from this [online] confrontation between [Cyborg and Harrison] because I won’t be chasing anyone. I’m the champion, after all,” Pacheco said. “I won the PFL belt twice, in two different weight classes. I know the value of my work. I also know my stereotype doesn’t sell. I know that. [PFL] was trying to do this fight between Kayla, the American sweetheart, and one of the greatest athletes in the history of the sport [Cyborg], the reason why we’re all fighting today. I stepped aside and let them kill themselves, I won’t be fighting for scraps. I don’t need that.”

Pacheco said the news of Harrison moving to the UFC made sense with how much Harrison has been “running” as of late, and that the situation is now “a big mess”. Pacheco said she was appalled to see Cyborg asking for a UFC return given her relationship with company CEO Dana White, especially by calling out a fighter who retired from the sport.

“I believe I’m at a higher level than the athletes [Cyborg] was fighting [in Bellator],” Pacheco said. “I don’t have anything to prove to anyone. Everybody thinks PFL is weaker but it’s quite the opposite. We might not have the media, but the money on the line makes people give their all in there. It changes lives, as it changed mine. Am I going to fight for almost nothing? Many fighters left the UFC for PFL and say they’ve made more in a year than in their entire UFC careers.

“We don’t make a living off of media. We need media, sure, but media doesn’t pay our bills. But it’s all good, UFC is still the No. 1 promotion and has its importance, but I see Cris’ situation as a cry for help. She wants to retire already, that’s a fact, and she’s shooting at wherever she thinks she’s going to get paid more — or where she can keep her name in the media for longer and continue to make money to provide to her family and have a comfortable life.”

Cyborg is currently under contract with PFL, and the promotion has shifted its plans for 2024 since acquiring Bellator. PFL added a women’s flyweight tournament to its upcoming season. It also has no plans of running tournaments for the women’s featherweight and lightweight division. That means Pacheco won’t be able to chase her third consecutive $1 million check, therefore she said she’s in negotiations for a higher purse instead.

As for the proposed Cyborg clash, Pacheco said she’s down to compete on one of the Bellator shows, especially if it’s held in Brazil, or on a future PFL pay-per-view.

“The scenario is quite clear for me,” Pacheco said. “Cris left the UFC in an ugly way, fighting Dana White. Dana White has made it pretty clear he doesn’t like her, he doesn’t like working with her. He has his reasons and she has hers, that’s not up to me [to judge]. The promotion where she was the champion and had all the safety was Bellator, and now PFL has acquired Bellator, so PFL is her home. I don’t see a reason not to do this fight, only if she doesn’t want it.

“I’m the champion, and I have earned it. I don’t see why waste such a big fight against two big names just because of ego or whatever. They can do a great promotion behind it just like they’re doing with this card in Saudi Arabia.”

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