Kayla Harrison is a top-10 pound-for-pound fighter already, and other random thoughts
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A few thoughts to share following my second day in Las Vegas:
Friday was a great day. I banked a ton of interviews for BT Sport (more on that later), but most exciting was that I finally got to see my ol’ pal Daniel Cormier in the flesh again. This was the first time I saw him since March 5, 2020, and I’m not sure if you guys know this but a lot has happened since then! It was so nice to hang for a bit and just joke around in person, rather than on zoom or phone. I know a lot of you are bummed the show isn’t around anymore, but I hope you take solace in the fact that we are friends for life (whether he likes it or not) and I do believe we will be reunited on the airwaves sometime in the future. Maybe not soon, but it would be a travesty if that didn’t happen, and I do believe it will. Until then, I’ll just keep trying to hug him whenever I can. And yes, it’s crazy that we did a show for 14 months and it was never once in a person.
The biggest news in the world of combat has to do with former UFC fighter CM Punk debuting in AEW Friday night. What a freaking pop. Wow. While he said early during his hiatus that he was done with wrestling, I — as well as most of you, I suspect — always had a feeling he would be back in same way, shape or form. I’m really happy to see him happy. That was a great promo and a great moment for pro wrestling. Feels like the business is on fire right now. Feels like it hasn’t been this interesting since the late 90’s.
Just like in MMA, I’m a firm believer that competition is better for everyone. Wrestling is enjoying that right now. MMA would be more interesting with more legit competition, too.
Speaking of pro wrestling, I had the opportunity to do a sit-down with WWE president and chief revenue officer Nick Khan on Friday. Full disclosure: Khan was my agent for five years while I was represented by CAA. He left CAA last August to take this job. Since I met in 2015 I have never seen him do any kind of extended on-camera interviews, so this was a big one, and I appreciate him sitting down with me very much. It will be out in the coming days on the BT Sport YouTube channel. Even if you aren’t a wrasslin’ fan, I think you’ll enjoy it.
I’m really enjoying covering Summerslam for BT Sport this week in Vegas. It’s a totally different experience than covering an MMA event, and I’m really digging it. We sat down everyone from Matt Riddle to Jimmy Hart over the past two days, and they were all fantastic interviews. A nice change of pace, or subject, is always good for the soul.
Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, but I was to hear how into MMA so many of the WWE stars we spoke with are. Pretty much every single one are hardcore fans. Not just, say, McGregor, hardcore fans who follow it all. Cool to see.
I just came back from the Summerslam super store at MGM Grand and bought a ton of merch for my kids. I can’t wait to show it to them on Sunday. I miss them dearly.
I’ll be attending Summerslam Saturday at Allegiant Stadium. I’m curious to see how the stadium looks in person. I suspect we’ll see a UFC event there in the next 2-3 years, if not before.
Alright, back to the MMA talk. Kayla Harrison won again on Thursday, as you know. She also cut another awesome promo afterwards. I don’t do rankings anymore (thankfully) but if I did, I would 100 percent rank her as a top 10 pound-for-pound female fighter. Yes, I know she hasn’t fought the best competition, but she absolutely deserves that. She is amazing and is only getting better. Can you honestly say there are 10 better female fighters than her? I can’t. No way.
I suspect Harrison’s next fight will be her last in PFL (her contract is up) and then UFC or Bellator will throw a boat load of money at her. I think the UFC is the front-runner to sign her, but a Cyborg vs. Harrison fight at 145 in Bellator would be fun. Regardless of where she ends up, she could very well be the face of women’s MMA in the next two years. I wouldn’t be surprised if she goes down as one of the all time greats, too. She is that darn good.
I love how she was reluctant to even try MMA five years ago and now she is all in. I remember at her post-fight presser following her second gold medal victory, she seemed down and uninterested in MMA. What a difference a few years make. I really enjoy her dynamic with PFL announcer Sean O’Connell. They are great together.
Speaking of gold medalists, Gable Steveson is doing a phenomenal job flirting with everyone lately. It’s what he should be doing. He was at the Bellator event on Friday, he’s meeting with the UFC brass this weekend, and attending Summerslam Saturday. I ultimately think he signs with WWE first.
Bobby Lashley told me on Friday he thinks Steveson can be a star. He suggested Steveson hitch his wagon to the Paul Heyman horse ASAP. That seemed to work for another University of Minnesota stud.
Lashley, 45, who is currently the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, didn’t fully close the door on his MMA career, but he all but did. He did say, though, that he’d love to try bareknuckle fighting. Seriously. He feels like he never got to show off his boxing skills during his MMA career.
I think Francis Ngannou vs. Ciryl Gane happens in early 2022, maybe even in January. Which means it might be well over two years between Jon Jones fights. Seems like a wasted time.
I loved fielding questions from you guys on the page earlier in the week. I’m going to do this much more often. Here are some replies.
Rest in peace, Saul Soliz. One of the best coaches in MMA history. Gone way too young.
It’s weird being in Vegas, when there’s an actual UFC event going on here, and not being here to cover said event. It’s a new day (pardon the pun)! Tomorrow’s card is flying under the radar big time. The main event, Jared Cannonier vs. Kelvin Gastelum, is a solid one at 185. I’m most looking forward to the return of Mark Madsen, who is 10-0 but hasn’t fought since March 7, 2020. In fact, the last time he fought was the last time I was in Vegas.
And that, my friends, is what you call full circle.
Enjoy a busy Saturday night of fights!
I probably shouldn’t care as much as I do, but it’s really nice to see you and DC together again. The chemistry the two of you have is off the charts, and I’m glad you were able to reunite — particularly since I question when/if he’ll be able to do your show.
I’m really enjoying these Ariel! Drop some names for 6