Kayla Harrison says her decision to be more open on the mic and unafraid to trash talk was based on a decision to be more genuine.
There definitely seems to be a noticeable difference in Kayla Harrison’s performance inside the PFL cage in this 2021 season — and that’s even when she had a fairly trouble-free path toward becoming the promotion’s inaugural women’s lightweight champion in 2019.
Harrison has looked arguably even more impressive in her second full season with the PFL, scoring first-round finishes of Mariana Morais and Cindy Dandois in the regular season en route to a perfect 12 points in the standings and placing her as the No. 2 seed (Larissa Pacheco edged her out in a tiebreaker).
But perhaps what’s gotten her even more attention besides her MMA skills is her memorable post-fight interviews, making statements that she is the queen of the PFL, let alone its women’s 155-pound division.
Harrison attributes her emphasized statements on the mic to a decision to be more open and her genuine self.
“Listen, I talk trash all of the time,” Harrison told FanSided’s Amy Kaplan in Florida during the PFL press junket. “I talk trash in the gym. If you guys video today, all I do is talk smack on the mats, and to the owner, to the manager. It’s a big part of my personality in a way, and it’s all in good fun.
“It’s all light-hearted and good fun, but I kind of realize that no one wants Ms. Congeniality. Nobody wants America’s sweetheart. They kinda want you to be real and be yourself and I decided that that’s what I’m gonna do from now on. I am who I am. I say what I say, and I believe everything I say.”
Kayla Harrison discusses being more open in PFL post-fight interviews
After her win over Morais, Harrison delivered a memorable post-match promo in which she declared that the women’s lightweight season and playoffs “isn’t a tournament, it’s a coronation — and I’m the queen.” She followed it up by daring anyone — fighter or personality — to step in the cage with her if they think fighting is easy work and anyone can push her over.
She followed that up following her win over Dandois by doubling down on how she is the queen of the division.
“I don’t plan [the trash talk],” Harrison said. “It just kinda brews and I think about it. If there’s something that’s bothering me or something that I need to get off my chest, I’ll make sure that I let the world know. But I just realized that I’m gonna be authentic and be myself and that’s gonna serve me the best in the long run.”
Trash talk has been an interesting conversation in MMA over the last few months, namely when it comes to Conor McGregor’s several mentions of Dustin Poirier and his wife and his tweet-and-delete attacks on Khabib Nurmagomedov and Daniel Cormier.
That being said, Harrison says she would never dare to cross a line. Harrison says while she is letting herself go more on the mic, she knows there is a balance to maintain between talking trash and being a professional in MMA.
“There is such a thing as too far, in my opinion,” Harrison said. “I think what we do is entertainment, but it’s also sport. I try to uphold the values of sport. Respect, courtesy, for the most part.
“But I would never talk about someone’s family. I would never wish ill on someone. You know, I want us all to be safe and healthy when we leave the fight. But I’m gonna go out there and I’m gonna try to win at all costs.”
Harrison faces Genah Fabian in a women’s lightweight semifinal bout in the main event of PFL Playoffs 2 on Aug. 19.