Cyborg to Kayla Harrison: ‘She knows where she can find me’

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Kayla Harrison wants to fight UFC champion Cris “Cyborg” Justino, eventually. The feeling appears mutual.

“She knows where she can find me,” Justino said in a radio interview published Thursday.

“She’s supposed to be the next Ronda Rousey, judo girl,” the Brazilian said. It was unclear whether it was a statement or a question. “I don’t know if [Harrison] can take a punch.”

Harrison, who switched to MMA after repeating as Olympic judo champion in Rio, is 2-0 since debuting in the Professional Fighters League this summer.

Harrison has repeated in interviews that she wants to be the world’s best female fighter, and that would require beating Cyborg. Harrison said Justino is “considered the best, probably, pound-for-pound” female fighter ever.

Harrison brought up the idea that Justino could switch from UFC to PFL after her contract is up.

“I don’t think I’m ready yet [to fight Justino], but I know I will be,” Harrison said after an Aug. 17 TKO in her second fight, according to ESPN. “I’m not going to make guesses on the future, but I do know I will fight Cris Cyborg.”

Harrison is in PFL’s 155-pound division and will fight at least once more this year. Justino fights in UFC’s heaviest division, max 145 pounds.

Justino is 20-1 with one no contest since debuting in 2005. MMA fans and Dana White craved a fight between Cyborg and Ronda Rousey, Harrison’s former judo training partner, but it never happened.

White said they would have fought if Rousey won her last bout against Amanda Nunes on Dec. 30, 2016.

“I had a dream the other night that I was fighting Cyborg, and I got her in an arm bar and I broke her arm,” Harrison said in 2016, according to The New York Times. “But she wouldn’t tap, so I choked her unconscious.”

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Kayla Harrison pummels another MMA opponent in PFL fight

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Kayla Harrison now has as many MMA wins as she does Olympic gold medals. She’s looked just as dominant in her first two Professional Fighters League bouts as she did at times during the peak of her judo career.

Harrison pummeled a floored Jozette Cotton (8-2) from a standing position, forcing a TKO with three minutes left of a three-round, 15-minute fight in Atlantic City, N.J., on Thursday night.

“I’m still trying to get all the issues out of the game plan, but overall I’m happy,” Harrison said on NBCSN. “I never want it to go three rounds, but it’s good to know that I can go three or five or 10 or however long it takes to put somebody away.”

Harrison routed Cotton in total strikes landed — 79-12 — many coming with Cotton lying on the bottom of the cage in each of the three rounds.

The 28-year-old Harrison switched from judo to MMA after repeating as Olympic champion in Rio.

She debuted June 21, forcing Brittney Elkin to submit via arm bar after three minutes. That’s the same move made famous by Harrison’s former judo training partner, Ronda Rousey.

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Kayla Harrison wins MMA debut with Ronda Rousey’s signature move

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Double Olympic judo champion Kayla Harrison won her MMA debut with an arm-bar submission, using former roommate Ronda Rousey‘s signature move for a first-round submission at a Professional Fighters League event in Chicago on Thursday night.

“I was wicked nervous,” the Massachusetts native said. “This is all so new. No one has ever locked me in a cage and said, go kill someone. … I can’t wait until the next one.”

Harrison, in her first competition since the Rio Games, beat Brittney Elkin (3-5) after 3 minutes, 18 seconds, of the five-minute first round. Harrison dominated from the start, took Elkin down to the mat after 30 seconds, landed a series of punches and eventually rolled Elkin into the arm bar.

Harrison announced in October 2016 that she joined the MMA promotion as a commentator and brand ambassador, but not necessarily a fighter. A year ago, Harrison said she would compete.

The comparisons to former judo training partner and Olympic bronze medalist Rousey have shadowed her for years.

“I’ve been waiting for a long time to fight,” Harrison, 27, said in April. “First, it was more me. I just wanted to get my feet wet, get in there, see if I liked getting punched in the face. Now that I’ve established that I do, we’ve sort of been waiting for the PFL to get their stuff together. So, their stuff is together.”

Harrison that her first two planned opponents pulled out for reasons unknown to her.

“I don’t care who I fight,” Harrison said in April. “It’s tough because I’m 0-0 in MMA. So it’s not like I’m going to fight someone who’s 10-0. But I think it’s difficult when you have two Olympic gold medals behind your name. Like people are kind of like, are you really an amateur?”

Harrison, who has said she hopes to fight three times this year, said her goal is for everyone to know that she is the world’s best MMA fighter.

“My coaches keep calling me an embryo,” Harrison told media after Thursday’s debut. “It’s true. I’m an embryo. I’m a baby in this thing.”

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