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Fighter on Fighter: Breaking down UFC Fight Night 95’s Cris Cyborg resident fighter analyst -- and aspiring professional fighter -- Andrew Richardson breaks down the mixed martial arts (MMA) game of UFC Fight Night 95 headliner Cris Cyborg, who looks to continue running through opponents this Saturday night (Sept. 24, 2016) inside Ginasio Nilson Nelson in Brasilia, Brazil.

The best Featherweight in women’s mixed martial arts (MMA), Cris Cyborg, is set to battle with Muay Thai veteran, Lina Landsberg, this Saturday (Sept. 24, 2016) in a 140-pound Catchweight bout at UFC Fight Night 95 inside Ginasio Nilson Nelson in Brasilia, Brazil.

The main narrative heading into this bout has largely been focused on Cyborg’s struggle to make weight. The contracted weight for this bout is not a real division, so it ultimately doesn’t affect much of anything, but that’s where most of the talk regarding this bout lies.

Not about her opponent or the match up, which is pretty telling.

Since losing her debut 11 years ago, Cyborg has been on the war path. Though most of her competition has been less than accomplished, the Brazilian has mauled each of her opponents without all that much effort.

Let’s take a closer look at her skill set:


Cyborg’s striking — her entire mixed martial arts (MMA) game, in fact — revolves around physicality. If you’re wondering why Cyborg would rather take drastic steps to shed water weight than lose some muscle over time, there’s the reason.

Besides the fact that there are few enough women large enough to require a weight cut to 145 lbs., far fewer are equipped with Cyborg’s athletic gifts and physical strength. Additionally, it’s common across all weight classes in Women’s MMA that many fighters simply cannot punch with both technique and explosiveness.

Once again, Cyborg is the exception (GIF).

Alongside physicality, Cyborg’s game relies on overwhelming her opponents. Regardless of what range or facet of MMA she’s working from, Cyborg is an aggressive and relentless athlete.

On the feet, that aggression comes in the form of numerous right hands. She’ll occasionally use a sharp jab to stand her opponent up straight before the heavy blows come, but the right hand is the core of her striking.

To mix it up, Cyborg does do a nice job of punching to both the head and body. Since her opponent often is keeping her hands very tight to try and avoid the knockout punches, the body is often an easy target (GIF).

Often, Cyborg will simply ignore her opponent’s offense and flurry on her foe. Alternating right hands and left hooks, Cyborg’s approach is simple but undoubtedly effective. She’s a very durable fighter, and there isn’t a women in MMA who could trade punches with Cyborg and come out on top consistently (GIF).

Leslie Smith tried, but the hand speed and power difference was immediately obvious (GIF).

One tactic that has become more common in Cyborg’s recent fights is her habit of punching her way into the clinch. Rather than simply getting caught in the clinch due to her habit of throwing looping shots, Cyborg now initiates and attacks from that position.

After clubbing her opponent with a right hand, Cyborg will transition into the double-collar tie. From there, she’s able to throw her opponents around, slam home knees to the face, and even crack her opponent with the occasional elbow.

Defensively, Cyborg can be a bit predictable and open with her attack, but no one has really been able to capitalize on it. She did take quite a beating in a Muay Thai fight with Jorina Baars, but Baars is 40-0-4 in Muay Thai, so that will be difficult to replicate for anyone but a truly elite striker.


As expected, just about everyone who faces Cyborg tries to take her down, as standing with her has worked out well for no one. Unfortunately for the few women at 145 lbs., none have had any real success.

Cyborg only looks for own takedowns when her opponent is actively trying to clinch. Once again, it really comes down to physicality, as Cyborg is often able to simply lift and slam her opponents without much effort. For example, she likes to counter the stereotypical WMMA hip toss simply by lowering her base, squeezing her grip, and lifting her opponent the other direction.

It’s worth mentioning that Cyborg’s top game can be pretty devastating. It’s not complicated, but Cyborg has smashed opponents simply by standing over their guard and dropping bombs. Alternatively, Cyborg will throw her opponent’s legs by and dive in with a punch, as she’s quite nasty from dominant positions with punches and elbows.

Defensively, Cyborg’s strength has really been unstoppable. The only time she’s ended up on bottom has been as a result of a couple sloppy sacrifice throws opposite Gina Carano years ago, and even then Cyborg simply scrambled her way to top position.

Fortunately for Cyborg, most women simply don’t have the skills or physical gifts necessary to take her down. Since there aren’t many true wrestlers, no one is likely to hit a blast double or slick single leg on the Brazilian. Without the ability to level change into a shot, Cyborg’s opponent’s are forced to try and land takedowns from the clinch, which is nearly impossible thanks to Cyborg’s strength and experience.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Cyborg’s fights may not feature many extended grappling exchanges, but she does have a ton of credentials. She’s a brown belt in jiu-jitsu under Andre Galvao — one of the sport’s best — and has won multiple gold medals as a purple belt in big tournaments. Plus, she took bronze in 2009 at ADCC, which is quite an accomplishment.

In MMA, the only time Cyborg really attacked with submissions came in her bout with Carano. After giving up mount in the aforementioned takedown attempt, Cyborg quickly hip escaped into a nice heel hook attempt, which allowed her to scramble back to good position.

It was a quick and effective display of transitional jiu-jitsu.

Beyond that small instance, it’s tough to get a read on Cyborg’s jiu-jitsu in MMA. She could’ve looked for submissions opposite Coenen, but Coenen is a solid submission fighter in her own right. Besides, Cyborg found plenty of success by blasting her with ground strikes, so why switch if it’s not necessary?


Cyborg is reigning over any women foolish enough to step above 135 lbs. with an iron fist (or more specifically, right hand) and has been doing so for years. She’ll look to continue her dominance on Saturday night, but there may be some actual consequence to this victory. If Cyborg can continue to demolish fighters in UFC bouts, it’s only a matter of time before she faces off with a real high-profile foe.


Andrew Richardson, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu purple belt, is an undefeated amateur fighter who trains at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California. In addition to learning alongside world-class talent, Andrew has scouted opponents and developed winning strategies for several of the sport's most elite fighters.

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