Cris Cyborg is back! The current Invicta FC featherweight queen will make her second walk to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Octagon later tonight (Sat., Sept. 24, 2016) at UFC Fight Night 95 live on FOX Sports 1 from inside Ginasio Nilson Nelson arena in Brasilia, Brazil. This time, Cyborg will be the headlining bout. She will make another cut to 140 pounds and welcome Swedish striker and unknown mixed martial arts (MMA) entity Lina Lansberg to the biggest stage in the sport in front of thousands of screaming Brazilian fanatics.
Despite the massive difference in talent level and experience that clearly favors Cyborg, Lansberg is a capable competitor who has shown the ability to hang in the pocket and throw caution to the wind, which is probably why she locked down this high-profile main event clash opposite the biggest name in women's MMA outside of Ronda Rousey. So even though Cyborg is expected to win, and most likely will, we still need to respect "Elbow Princess," get our own hands dirty and decipher the keys to victory for each fighter. Here they are.
1. Attack early...
Cyborg is more than capable of slinging heavy leather late into fights, evident by her fourth-round finish of Marloes Coenen back in 2013, but she has recorded 90 percent of her legendary damage within the first frame. If history has treated her well, why would she change the blueprint for a smaller fighter like Lansberg?
Cyborg shouldn't, especially considering she has never truly tested her cardio at the 140-pound level. Cutting so much weight often affects a fighter's ability to maintain offensive output, among other things, so the 31-year-old knockout artist would be wise to unload everything she has while she still can.
That doesn't necessarily mean she'll find a home for her brutal combinations against a light-on-the-feet opponent like "Elbow Princess," but she'll put more pressure on Lansberg than she's probably collectively encountered throughout her entire four-year career.
2. Stay away from the clinch...
The truth is that Cyborg is dangerous anywhere the fight goes. On the feet, in the clinch, on the ground or in transition, the menacing Brazilian superstar can out-muscle and outpoint any opponent under most circumstances. But in order to give herself the best opportunity to retain her illustrious MMA allure, Cyborg will be better off if she keeps her distance and stays away from Lansberg's clinch.
Again, this doesn't mean that Cyborg isn't capable inside because she has finished opponents before by winging fists in their face along the cage, but Lansberg's specialty is the clinch game. Her entire offensive repertoire is geared around the ability to tie an opponent up, lean on her Muay Thai background, land elbows and body shots, and soften her opponent up as much as possible. While Cyborg is certainly strong enough to get out of trouble if "Elbow Princess" is somehow cutting her up on the inside, why take the chance?
Cyborg should sit back on her feet, rely on her reach and ferocious hand speed, and wait for the finish to find her.
1. Drag the fight into deep water...
Deep water in regards to challenging someone as explosive and forward approaching as Cyborg may only mean lasting into the second round. For Lansberg, who has seen Round 3 four times since making her professional debut in 2012, making Cyborg work for every single punch and point is going to benefit her in the long run.
Almost every opponent Cyborg has ever faced has been unable to get past her first Vitor Belfort-like blitz, which is why the Brazilian knockout owns such an intimidating track record. But as Cyborg gets older and cuts even more weight, her ability to remain dangerous in the later frames is going to decline. It may not be rapid, but it's going to be noticeable when it happens.
Lansberg may not have the chin to outlast Cyborg's offense and walk through the hardest punches in women's MMA today, but her movement, versatility, smaller frame and reaction time could allow her to escape precarious positions early into the fight and extend the action.
2. Close the distance...
While Cyborg is the much bigger fighter and certainly has proven to fight that way, Lansberg's only chance to land significant damage on the feet is to close the gap and utilize her powerful Muay Thai game. After all, she's going to be giving up strength, precision, punching power and reach to Cyborg when the two tangle later this evening.
If Lansberg aims to knock off the most elusive name in Brazilian MMA today, she has to make Cyborg fight inside and force her to absorb knees to the body, elbows to the face, foot stomps, short combinations and anything and everything Lansberg has in her Swedish tank.
While she is skilled around the edges, Lansberg will not find a home for anything if she exchanges from distance with an offensive practitioner like Cyborg. It's clinch or nothing for "Elbow Princess" at UFC Fight Night 95 in Brazil.
Prediction: Cyborg via second-round TKO
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 95 fight card on fight night, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, and then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the main card start time at 10 p.m. ET, also on FOX Sports 1.