Despite Cris Cyborg’s re-signing, Scott Coker remains interested in a potential fight with Kayla Harrison

After prolonged negotiations, Bellator officials and Cris Cyborg reached a new agreement within hours, according to Scott Coker, the head of the promotion. The reigning women’s featherweight champion signed a multi-fight contract with Bellator earlier this month, ending a lengthy free agency period that began after her most recent title defense against Arlene Blencowe in April 2022.

Coker said Cyborg initiated the conversations that led to her staying under the Bellator banner. “I received a phone call from her and her manager, who said, ‘We have decided to stay, and we would like to make a deal.’ Within one hour, we had made a deal, and within the next two hours, it was signed. Within a three-hour period, we had moved from waiting to see what was going to happen with her right to match and other offers coming from other leagues, to her deciding to continue her fighting career with Bellator,” Coker stated at the Bellator 296 post-fight press conference at Paris’ Accor Arena.

Coker noted Cyborg’s comfort level and the promotion’s commitment to the women’s featherweight division while discussing the deal. Cyborg, who holds a 5-0 record in Bellator since signing with the promotion in 2020, won the featherweight championship in her debut by defeating Julia Budd and has since recorded four consecutive title defenses, ending four of her five Bellator appearances via stoppages. She also won titles in the UFC, Invicta FC, and Strikeforce – the latter marking the beginning of her relationship with Coker.

During her MMA free agency, Cyborg won a pair of professional boxing bouts, defeating Simone Silva in September and Gabrielle Holloway in December. Of note, Coker mentioned Kayla Harrison, a two-time Olympic and two-time PFL champion.

Harrison signed with Bellator in early 2022 during her much-discussed free agency but could not commit due to a matching clause, and subsequently returned to PFL. She is set to become a free agent again after the 2023 PFL season with no potential matching clause. A fight between Harrison and Cyborg has been long-coveted and, according to Coker, when the time comes, Bellator will be paying attention.


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