The only way that Cris “Cyborg” Justino has been able to fight in the Octagon thus far is to take a bout outside of her usual weight class. Now, the Invicta FC featherweight champion is calling on the UFC to institute her division of 145 pounds.
Currently, the UFC has two weight classes for women, the 115-pound strawweight class and the 135-pound bantamweight class. The promotion has held a women’s bout at 125 pounds, which is flyweight, but it doesn’t yet have a full-on division at that weight.
UFC president Dana White has said that the women’s flyweight class will be the next division the promotion adds, but said they need more time to get enough women involved to have a full weight class. Cyborg, however, is calling for her division in the Octagon, and has a supporting argument.
“None of these girls have ever fought lighter than 135 pounds. Currently there is not one girl in the bantamweight division’s Top 10 to have fought their entire career at 135 and half of the girls ranked in the bantamweight Top 10 are on a losing streak,” she added.
“I am the only MMA world champion to have ever successfully went down in weight to compete in a superfight, while still holding the world title. I deserve my own division.”
Cyborg cut down to 140 pounds to fight Leslie Smith at UFC 198, destroying her in 1:21 of the first round.
Cyborg has tried for a long time to get a fight with Rousey, but the stipulation from Rousey and the UFC was always for Cyborg to make 135 pounds if she wanted to fight the champ. Cyborg, though, even with professional nutritional guidance, struggled to make 140 pounds, and doesn’t believe she can safely reach 135 pounds, and doesn’t think it is fair for the UFC to not include her division.
“These girls didn’t want to fight me in my weight class and now fans want me to face them for no belt, or risk my health to chase theirs… this is not fair,” Cyborg said. “I’ve earned the right to fight in my division and women deserve an equal opportunity to compete.”
Ironically, it is Cyborg’s dominance that is likely to slow the institution of her division in the UFC. The Invicta FC featherweight champion, minus losing the first fight of her professional career, has rolled through nearly everyone she has ever fought. Only two of her 18 bouts have ever gone the distance, while she has taken out 10 opponents in the first round. (One of those first-round stoppages was changed to a no-contest when she tested positive for an anabolic steroid.)
Cyborg may want her own division in the UFC, but even the all-women’s Invicta FC is having trouble finding worthy opponents to present her any sort of challenge. Until that changes, it’s unlikely that the UFC would honor her request.
In the near term, the best that Cyborg can probably hope for is for the UFC to offer her one-off fights in her weight class or further bouts at a 140-pound catchweight.