Cris Cyborg’s Octagon Debut is a Done Deal for UFC 198

March 28, 2016

First New York became the final state to sanction MMA, and now Cris “Cyborg” Justino has been inked for her first UFC fight.

Cyborg gets her wish and will fight in her hometown of Curitiba, Brazil, when UFC 198: Werdum vs. Miocic lands at Arena da Baixada. She will square off with Leslie Smith in a 140-pound catchweight bout.

It’s not the fight that Cyborg or her fans had been hoping for. The Invicta FC featherweight champ’s focus has long been Ronda Rousey, but that fight never materialized, as the UFC, Rousey, and Cyborg quarreled over the requirement that the fight should be at 135 pounds.

Cyborg had been trying to find a way to remain healthy and drop down to 135 pounds to make that fight happen, but after Rousey lost the UFC belt to Holly Holm and the new restriction banning intravenous fluids for rehydration was put in place, Cyborg and her team determined that she couldn’t safely cut down to the bantamweight limit.

RELATED > After Ronda Rousey Loss, Cris Cyborg Will Stay at 145 Pounds

Cris CyborgAlthough there is a still a desire for a marquis match-up with Rousey, Holm, or current champion Miesha Tate, Cyborg’s recent lobbying efforts focused on fighting anyone, as long as it was at UFC 198, which takes place at a nearly 40,000-seat capacity soccer stadium in her hometown. Without a belt on the line, the UFC accommodated her by making a 140-pound bout with Smith, in a move that will surely draw her hometown fans in droves.

Cyborg (15-1, 1 NC) last fought in January, when she defended her Invicta FC 145-pound belt by knocking out Daria Ibragimova. Despite never having fought previously in the Octagon, she is widely considered the top pound-for-pound female fighter in the world.

Smith (8-6-1) defeated Rin Nakai by decision at the recent UFC Fight Night 85 event in Brisbane, Australia. She resides in the UFC bantamweight division, but has fought as light as flyweight (125 pounds) as recently as December of 2013.  She is not currently ranked amongst the top 15 fighters in the UFC women’s bantamweight rankings.

UFC 198 is headlined by a heavyweight title fight between current champ Fabricio Werdum and challenger Stipe Miocic.