Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women’s featherweight champion, Cristiane Justino, was upset by reigning bantamweight titleholder, Amanda Nunes, when “Lioness” jumped up to 145 pounds and finished “Cyborg” at UFC 232 back in December.
The timing could not have been worse, as Justino (20-2, 1 NC) is currently negotiating with the world’s largest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion. The former Invicta FC champ, who also held gold for Strikeforce, has just one fight remaining on her current deal.
Did the Nunes loss cost her at the bargaining table?
“It’s not about being the champion, it’s about who’s watching my fights,” Justino told MMA Fighting. “People will like to watch my fights if I’m champion or not champion, and for sure my next fight people will want to watch. I’m just going to continue my training and let my manager handle everything.”
Justino has been an easy sell, at least in terms of fan interest, which is not surprising when you consider she has 17 knockouts in 20 wins. Having watched her compete for the past decade (and then some), I can say with some degree of confidence that there is no such thing as a boring “Cyborg” fight.
Unfortunately, the promotion has struggled to find female featherweights and three years after she signed with UFC, there is still no women’s 145-pound rankings list. In fact, her first two “brutal” Octagon fights had to take place at catchweight.
“I don’t have so many options left,” Justino said. “I think the only girl at 145 is Megan Anderson.”
UFC is already looking to dissolve its 125-pound division so there are no guarantees “Cyborg” would even have a home if the promotion does likewise at 145 pounds. But considering the strength of her brand, there are plenty of opportunities in Bellator MMA or even RIZIN in Japan.
Time will tell.