Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women's featherweight champion Cris Cyborg is happy to turn the page in her career and reunite with promoter Scott Coker under the Bellator MMA banner.
Can you blame her? Cyborg's exit from UFC was anything but clean, and her ongoing feud with UFC president Dana White seems downright exhausting.
Luckily for Cyborg, she has found a new home with Bellator. There she will have a chance to win her fourth major world title, having captured belts in UFC, Strikeforce, and Invicta FC.
“Bellator was the place I wanted to go [to]. I worked with [Bellator President] Scott Coker at Strikeforce, and he has always been able to find the best fighters in the world,” Cyborg told BJPENN.com. “People use to say that Strikeforce didn’t have as good of fighters as the UFC. But then you saw all of us go to the UFC and become champions. Daniel Cormier, Tyron Woodley, Ronda Rousey, and even Amanda Nunes all fought for Scott Coker before the UFC matchmakers even knew who they were.
“There is no featherweight division in the UFC for females. Which is why even after Nunes proclaimed her next fight would be at 145 she is going back to bantamweight. And the featherweight title is going to go more than a year without being defended. Scott has again found the real talent before UFC matchmakers have discovered them,” she continued. “Which is why he was able to build a successful featherweight division. Go look at the world rankings for Featherweight, and they are all signed with Bellator. Scott is committed to Women’s MMA and building an actual division for his fighters to compete in.”
Cyborg, 34, made her UFC debut back in 2016 under the impression that the promotion would create a 145-pound class around her. That wasn’t the case as UFC continued to throw random bantamweights and borderline featherweights her way as she captured the 145-pound championship and started to build her UFC legacy. Cyborg eventually lost her title to Amanda Nunes last year only to get back into the win column with a decision over Felicia Spencer this past July.
Needless to say, the Brazilian legend is happy to enter the mix in Bellator’s stacked, and very well established, women’s featherweight division.
“I spent four years working with the UFC trying to build the featherweight division only to sit and watch Bellator sign all of the top talent,” Cyborg explained. “I had one fight in 15 months before the bout with Felicia Spencer because all of the top girls had already been signed and were competing for Bellator. I’m excited to show the world that despite what some promoters have been saying the female 145-pounds division is actually one of the deepest in terms of talent in WMMA.”
So who will Cyborg fight first to spark off her career in Bellator? It will likely be current women’s featherweight champion and winner of 11 fights in a row, Julia Budd.
“I think Julia Budd will make for a great fight. She is well rounded and this will be another historic fight in my career,” Cyborg said.
Only time will tell how much success Cyborg can have under the Bellator banner and whether or not she can regain the aura of invincibility she carried prior to getting knockout out by “Lioness” nearly one year go.