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Marloes Coenen: It's a disgrace that UFC doesn't build a division around Cris Cyborg

Esther Lin

Bellator 163: "McGeary vs. Davis" comes to Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. on Nov. 4, 2016. The main event will see light heavyweight champion Liam McGeary come back after a one year layoff for a title fight against No. 1 contender "Mr. Wonderful" Phil Davis.

Earlier in the night, former Strikeforce champion Marloes Coenen will be in action against top prospect Talita Nogueira at featherweight. Although it's her debut fight for Bellator, the Brazilian brings an impressive 6-0 record with four submissions and two knockouts.

Coenen's experience, however, is an incredible edge to lean on. She's won over 75 percent of her pro fights (23 of 30) with a record that stretches all the way back to the early 2000's in Japan. 17 of those 23 wins come via submission as well.

The problem for Coenen right now is that she's coming off an upset loss to Alexis Dufresne, a fight which she has every right to be upset about given Dufresne missed weight by almost six pounds. Despite that disrespect, she told she never considered backing out of the fight.

"When I became a champion the first time in my life I was 19 years old. I was in Tokyo and it was an open weight tournament. There was a Japanese (fighter) Megumi Yabushita, she was like 105 pounds or something, and we also had the heaviest Svetlana Gundarenko, she was from Russia, and she was 330 pounds. So you know, that's how I have been trained. I fought Becky Levi and she was 230 pounds I think, so what is seven pounds?"

That's all well and good in theory, but MMA was much more of a "Wild West" in the early days of her career, and Dufresne knew the weight she had to make going in. Now it seems she won't let Coenen have a rematch.

"I wanted the rematch, they (Bellator) asked me if me I wanted to rematch, I immediately said yes but then she declined. She said she would only do the rematch if it was for a title and that kind of pissed me off again. 'Who do you think you are? You don't make weight three times in a row? You don't care! You don't respect the game, nor Bellator and not the fans. You really do not understand how this works. You don't call the shots.'"

Coenen is using the loss and the disrespect as extra motivation to prove something to herself and the fans.

"(Nogueira is) a world champion in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and my last fight I lost from an armbar so you know it's a tough opponent to me. I've been fighting for a long time, for more than 16 years, and sometimes it's hard to find the motivation. After this loss I got so much motivation that I only have one goal on Friday the 4th and that's to take her out. I have to take out a world class world champ in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. That's a big task. That gives me a lot of motivation, a lot of energy, and actually I can not wait to step into the cage with her and show I'm still a good fighter after all these years around."

Nogueira has just six pro MMA fights and her last was in 2013, but she was the 2011 World Jiu-Jitsu Champion at 74 kilograms (163 lbs.) so she's going to be big and dangerous inside that cage.

"My focus is with November 4th and I will win. I hope it will be on a submission. Normally I say a KO but it never happens and then I win on a submission, so this time if I say submission I hope it will be on a KO."

Coenen's feels strong going in and not just because she has something to prove. She believes her 16 years of fighting in MMA gives her some undeniable advantages.

"I mean she's a world champion in Brazilian jiu-jitsu but we can elbow, kick, knee, punch (in MMA). That's something different and she hasn't experienced that since 2013. I have 30 fights in the MMA cage so that's a little bit different. On the other hand I have no idea how she has progressed or how her stand up is now, how her grappling is. The only thing I could find was a Brazilian jiu-jitsu fight (from) last year. It's a difficult task for me."

And like the veteran fighter she is Coenen is aware that so much experience could also be a disadvantage.

"For her it's easy. She can study me. She knows. Yeah you can see everything of me (in fighting)."

One of the many things you can watch is her pair of fights with Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino, and to date Coenen is the only fighter to take Cyborg to four rounds. She thinks Cyborg is getting a bad break in UFC.

"I think it's a very big disgrace for the UFC that they don't build a division around her at 145. I mean she has proven to be attracting people, wanting to tune in to watch her fight, then they come up with this catch weight at 140? I mean come on, take us women in the sport seriously and give us more divisions. I mean look at Bellator, they opened up the 145, I don't have to make the 135. I can fight at my own weight."

Coenen was not holding back in her criticism of UFC's booking and use of Cris Cyborg. She clearly feels some sympathy toward her not just from having fought her twice but from seeing how weight cuts affect her.

"I mean 145 is already hell for her. The last time I fought her at 145 somebody had seen her making weight and she fell down to the floor and her coaches pulled her up at the arms and they took her legs to make her keep on running. So when I heard she was doing 140 I was really afraid something would happen to her -- thank God it didn't. I think UFC should be better than that."

The only real options for women at 145 in North America right now are Invicta and Bellator, so if you want to see the legendary Marloes Coenen fight at her natural weight, watch Bellator 163 on Nov. 4.

Complete audio of the interview is below and complete Bellator MMA coverage can be found right here on fight night.