Kayla Harrison was enjoying free agency when she first started fielding offers for her next contract, but the process has now grown frustrating as she seeks to get back to action sooner rather than later.
With expectations that a deal will be closed at any moment, the two-time PFL champion admits that the time off has made her start to question just how much time she has left in the sport in order to accomplish the goals she set for herself when transitioning from judo to mixed martial arts.
“Unfortunately for me, timing is everything and I’m worried my window of opportunity to fight these girls is slowly closing,” Harrison said on The MMA Hour. “It’s hard to be patient.”
Harrison is untouched in her fighting career with a perfect 12-0 record including 10 finishes by knockout or submission.
Despite her dominance, the 31-year-old lightweight fighter can’t help but question if perhaps she waited too long to get into MMA and what it’s going to take to be considered the greatest of all time. She needs to look no further than past perceptions about her former Olympic teammate Ronda Rousey to understand the goals she’s yet to achieve.
“I’ll be 100 percent real with you right now — I look at Ronda [Rousey] and I look at what she achieved and I look at who she became and the star power that she had and the platform that she had and it’s hard,” Harrison explained. “I want to change the world. I want to be the best.
“The ego in me wants everyone to know my name and to have no doubts and to say ‘damn Kayla Harrison, the best to ever do it.’ So it’s hard. It’s hard to not be there yet. It keeps me up at night. It haunts me.”
During her three year reign as UFC bantamweight champion, Rousey was not only one of the biggest stars in combat sports but she was also highly revered among her peers.
UFC president Dana White would often tout Rousey as a legitimate threat to any opponent she could face — man or woman — and he even claimed that she would beat undefeated boxing champion Floyd Mayweather in a fight if they ever crossed paths.
“There was a time when people thought she would beat grown men,” Harrison said about Rousey. “That is how dominant she was. That was how everyone is like she’s the greatest of all time. They were talking about her fighting dudes. I know that obviously a lot of that was skewed and a lot of that was crazy talk but I want to be that good that people are having those conversations.
“I want to be that good that people are like ‘damn, this girl could beat a grown man.’ That’s what I want. I want to be so high above the competition and so far above the pack that people have to start making crazy talk to make it interesting with me.”
Right now, Harrison understands that she hasn’t reached that same level of adoration or achievement in her career, which is what lights a fire under her to do as much as possible while she still can.
“I’m not buying into any of my own hype,” Harrison said. “I’m not reading my own press. I’m not delusional to think that I am so far above the pack.
“I know that there are great fighters out there. I know there are fighters more skilled that me or maybe more athletic than me. Obviously more time in the sport than me. I’m not delusional in thinking that I’m untouchable but I would like to test the theory.”
As of now all signs are pointing towards Harrison returning to PFL where she’s been a dominant force of nature while tearing through every opponent the promotion has put in front of her.
If she officially inks a new deal with PFL, the two-time Olympic champion knows there will be questions about her level of commitment to be considered the best in the world because the competition there likely wouldn’t allow her to take on notable champions from other organizations such as Cris Cyborg in Bellator or even former teammate Amanda Nunes in the UFC.
“I really do just want to be the best,” Harrison said. “I really do have an internal desire to test myself and to push myself to the highest limits I can go. I just want to make sure that I keep doing that and I keep pushing myself to do that. I know that I’m not there yet.
“I don’t call myself the greatest. I don’t say I’m the greatest. I don’t think I’m the greatest but I want to be. I want to fight the greatest. So obviously from October until now is a long layoff and it feels like a long layoff and it feels like it’s been a lifetime. I’m thankful that it’s almost over and I’m ready to get back in the cage and keep getting better and do what I love.”