Cristiane Justino also known as Cyborg or Cris Cyborg is arguably the #1 women's fighter in the world. Earlier this year in May at UFC 198, Cris made her UFC debut; Leslie Smith was her opponent that night, but make no mistake about it, this was “The Cyborg Show”. Cris dismantled Leslie in under a minute and a half, effectively letting the casual fight fans know what the enlightened ones already did, Cris Cyborg is for real.
In 2009 Cyborg dethroned the original “Poster Girl Of MMA” Gina Carano, in Strikeforce. Cristiane made short work of Gina TKO'ing her in the first round on her way to becoming the first and only Strikeforce Women's Featherweight Champion. After defending the title three times the promotion folded. Carano never returned to the cage. Cyborg is now the current Invicta Women's Featherweight Champion and has defended her belt four times. In her seventeen fight career her lone blemish was a loss in her very first professional fight, but a lot has changed since that time, 11 years ago.
Last week the UFC announced a huge Fight Night in Brasil on September 24th. The main event will feature Cristiane Justino. This is a huge step for Cyborg as she was given the main event slot over fellow Brazilian stars Renan Barao and Bigfoot Silva. Now with her big opportunity to shine in front of the world on free TV Cyborg is ready for the lime light. Rumours have been swirling about the creation of a Women's Featherweight Division (145lbs) but for now she will fight a second time at a Catchweight of 140lbs.
So I caught up with Cyborg to see how she feels about her opponent that night, Lina Lansberg:
“She is ranked as the #4 Featherweight prospect in the world for WMMA. She is a big athletic Muay Thai champion who is 6-1 in MMA. There are girls for me to fight at 145lbs, despite the UFC not having my weight division. She is a big athletic Viking and I look forward to testing my skills against a girl with her Muay Thai credentials”
Cris, a viscous Muy Thai striker has a career filled with highlight reel knock outs. So how does she envision her upcoming fight playing out?
“I do not know how the fight will go. I will train hard in the gym. I have the best team of coaches right now. Olympic Wrestling and Judo coaches from Cuba, Bryce Krause for Muay Thai, Jason Parillo for Boxing, Andre Galvao for BJJ and just a great group of training partners. I will be ready to defend Brazil.”
The first five fights of Cyborg's career took place in Brazil, but before May she hadn't fought there in 10 years. This will be her second fight to take place in her home country this year. So what does it mean to her to headline a huge event in front of her home crowd in Brazil?
“The fans of Brazil have always supported me. I am excited to be headlining on Fox Sports 1. The TV channel is available to almost 350 million homes in the USA and will be a great opportunity for them to see me fight! Most fans have never seen a female who can fight like me.”
One thing fight fans have seen very regularly in the past few years is a lot of high profile Women's MMA stars calling out Cris in an attempt to gain some attention. A very public feud with Ronda Rousey has made headlines for years, but an eventual meeting of the two in the octagon is looking less and less likely as time passes. So what does Cyborg think of other fighters trying to make a name off of her?
“This has been the story of WMMA. Ronda Rousey used me to build a name before dropping to 135. Miesha Tate used my name to bully Ronda, before she became champ. Holly Holm used my name to negotiate her first UFC contract. Sara Kaufman is trying to use my name now to get another UFC deal. Cecilia Braekhus is attempting to get people to watch her in boxing by bringing up my name. All of these girls are people I am willing to fight and the UFC is the best promotion in the world. There is a clear path to make these fights happen, but it takes two signatures to make a fight reality.”
Catch Cris Cyborg on September 24th live on FOX Sports 1, as she takes on UFC new comer Lina Lansberg. Back in 2013 the UFC created a division based around Ronda Rousey, now in 2016 it's time for the premier MMA company to do the same for Cristiane Justino. Get ready because the top female in the world is ready to become a house hold name.
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