‘Undeserving’ Harrison ‘Ran Away From Pacheco And Cyborg’

UFC 300 Weigh-in
Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Kayla Harrison is in a prime position to add more gold to her collection of lifelong accomplishments.

UFC 300 saw the former two-time Olympic gold medalist in Judo make her big promotional and Bantamweight debut this past weekend (April 13, 2024). Harrison, 33, couldn’t have asked for a better stage and performance than what she got, dispatching former UFC champion, Holly Holm, via a second round rear-naked choke (watch highlights).

The dominant showing has launched the former two-time Professional Fighters League (PFL) champion to the forefront of the contender list. It’s hard to imagine Harrison will have to fight more than once to earn her shot at the current champion, Raquel Pennington, if she doesn’t simply get the shot next. However, the thought of a Harrison leap-frogging doesn’t sit well with perennial Top 5 contender, Ketlen Vieira.

“A girl who just got here wants to have some privileges,” Vieira told Ag. Fight. “It can’t be like that, you know? There are other people who deserve it. UFC is MMA, it can’t be counted. It only matters in Judo, where she’s an Olympic champion. I respect that. I think she’s an excellent athlete, but I don’t see her as deserving in MMA as I am.

“She just left an event after running away from Larissa [Pacheco] and Cris ‘Cyborg’ [Justino],” she continued. “She talks a lot and runs away. She wants the fights that are convenient for her. So, I don’t see her as deserving. Oh, she wants to fight for the title? The order of the events doesn’t matter to me. It could be Julianna Pena first. It could be her later. I don’t care. I want the fight that’s going to get me the belt.”

Harrison’s lone loss in her 18-fight career came opposite Pacheco in the pair’s trilogy clash, the second to last PFL fight for Harrison, in November 2022 (watch highlights). Before and after the loss, plenty of hype and discussion surrounded the idea of a Harrison vs. Cyborg match up. Ultimately, it never came to fruition and the promotion now looks to book Pacheco vs. Cyborg in the second half of 2024.

Vieira, 32, is no stranger to the names currently surrounding Harrison’s UFC arrival. The Brazilian also holds a win over Holm when she won a split decision over “The Preacher’s Daughter” in May 2022. Another split decision followed for Vieira against the now-champion, Pennington. Unfortunately for her, it was in “Rocky’s” favor. Vieira has since rebounded with a unanimous decision nod over Pannie Kianzad in July 2023.