Cris “Cyborg” Justino knew she was in for a tough fight at UFC 214 against former Invicta FC champion Tonya Evinger.
While Cyborg ultimately put on a dominant performance as she became the new women’s featherweight champion, Evinger was definitely ready to give her everything she could handle after stepping up to accept the fight when Megan Anderson was pulled from the event several weeks ago.
Cyborg paid credit to Evinger as a worthy opponent while also pointing out that she likely put up a much tougher fight than another former champion would have given her had they ever met in the Octagon.
“I think Tonya is a great fighter, and truthfully I think she preformed better against me than Ronda Rousey would have,” Cyborg told MMAWeekly.com following UFC 214. “Tonya has always impressed me, and she is a fighter who has deserved to be in the UFC for awhile and has been in the top 10 in the world at 135 pounds for a long time.”
Of course, Cyborg pursued the fight with Rousey for several years but never got the chance to face her before the former Olympic bronze medalist dropped two bouts in a row to Amanda Nunes and Holly Holm.
The fight with Evinger served as the first time in over four years that Cyborg had been to the third round and she was actually looking forward to showing off some new tricks, but alas the opportunity never came.
Instead, Cyborg added another TKO to her resume — the 16th of her professional career.
“I felt in control of the fight the entire time, and while it went three rounds, I am very satisfied with my performance,” Cyborg stated. “I was able to showcase some of the things we have been trying to improve in my game, and even though Tonya was unable to keep my butt on the floor long enough to display it, I was really looking forward to showcasing the improvements I’ve made in [Brazilian jiu-jitsu].
“It is my goal to return back to Brazilian jiu-jitsu competition this year, and really showcase the things we have spent the last 10 months improving outside of the cage.”
The end goal for the fight was always about wrapping the UFC title around her waist, something that Cyborg had never experienced previously during her 12 year long career.
Cyborg felt like the reigning and defending champion at 145 pounds but it certainly felt validating to finally claim that UFC featherweight title.
“It was a great opportunity to fight in front of my home crowd here in the USA, and it was another opportunity for the UFC to help promote my profile within their company,” Cyborg said.
“For me it felt like I was defending my world title after two super fights at 140 pounds.”
Cyborg didn’t take long to celebrate the win as she’s already back in the gym just days after her victory but she will plan a little vacation before hopefully booking her next fight as she looks for an “aggressive” title campaign in the UFC.