While many in the mixed martial arts world have been clamoring for the UFC to institute a 145-pound women’s division built around current Invicta FC featherweight champion Cris “Cyborg” Justino, UFC president Dana White said on Tuesday that the promotion relented and tried to do just that.
According to White, however, Cyborg shot down their attempts.
“What’s crazy about that is this, I offered Cris Cyborg a title fight at 145 pounds a month ago,” White said during the most recent episode of UFC Unfiltered. “She had eight weeks to get ready for it; she said she couldn’t make the weight. She couldn’t make 145 pounds. So then I offered her another 145-pound title fight for Brooklyn and she turned it down.
“She has turned down two 145-pound title fights. One because she couldn’t make 145 pounds in eight weeks. (Outgoing matchmaker) Joe Silva is like, ‘if she can’t make 145 pounds in eight weeks, 145 isn’t the right weight class for her, either.’
White said that they first offered her a fight with Holly Holm. Aside from Cyborg being unable to to make the weight in eight weeks, he also indicated that the fight was turned down by Holm’s camp, as well.
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“Holly was so excited for that fight, but here coach, (Mike) Winklejohn said that was not the right fight for Holly. Holly had to turn it down, so we went with Germaine (de Randamie), and Germaine wants the fight.”
To add some clarity, Holm’s manager, Larry Fresquez, told MMAFighting.com that, as a team, they decided the fight wasn’t right for Holm. He indicated that they wanted the fight at a lower weight, going as high as 138 pounds, but didn’t feel fighting at 145 pounds was a good fit for Holm.
“We offered her a 145-pound title shot, she had eight weeks to get ready for it, and she said, ‘that’s not enough time to make the weight; I can’t make the weight in eight weeks.’”
White said Cyborg offered no reason for declining the fight with Randamie in Brooklyn. “There is no excuse, she just turned the fight down.”
Cyborg, however, responded in a prepared statement posted to MMAFighting.com, that explained how eight weeks wasn’t enough time and neither was the February date for UFC 208 in Brooklyn because she was still recovering from the brutal weight cut for her last fight. Her most recent fight was a second-round stoppage of Lina Länsberg in late September.
“In my last weight cut, I almost died. It was the worst weight cut in my life,” she told MMAFighting.
“The next day, like I always do after my fights, I did blood tests to see if everything was okay after a terrible weight cut. And for the first time, the nurses couldn’t take my blood, it was so thick it wouldn’t come out, so we couldn’t do tests. I was in treatment for 10 days with Dr. Ulisseia,” she continued.
“After all that, at home, I decided I would not fight at this weight anymore, that I would only fight at my division. And only with 12 weeks’ notice.”
Perhaps unaware of such information, White continued on the UFC podcast, saying that he didn’t believe that Cyborg turning down the two title fights had anything to do with weight cutting.
“This doesn’t have to do with weight. It obviously has nothing to do with weight cutting,” said White. “I don’t know what it has to do with, but I’m sure we’re gonna figure it out.”
In her statement, Cyborg said it had everything to do with weight cutting and giving her body time to get back to some sense of normalcy before having to make another cut.
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“I got a call from the UFC offering me another catchweight fight, and I said I would not fight at this weight anymore. I needed a break to get my health back to normal because my body was weak, I was anemic,” Cyborg explained.
“After that, they invited me to fight again, but this time at my weight and for the belt, but with 10 weeks’ notice. Knowing that I was recovering, like I said, I told them I can fight anyone in March, but I need to take care of my body, and no mention of the fact that I’m dealing with severe depression and can’t have another brutal weight cut like before. This decision is more important than the belt or the division, I’m thinking about my health.”
As of the time of publication, there had been no word on whether or not the UFC was continuing title talks with Cyborg about a date that would be acceptable to all sides.