Cris “Cyborg” Justino and her fans have long been clamoring for her to fight in the Octagon. Is it possible that the UFC might actually make those wishes come true?
According to a report on UFC Tonight this week, UFC officials are “actively exploring the possibility” of her fighting at UFC 198 on May 14 in her hometown of Curitiba, Brazil. Not only will the promotion be in Curitiba for the first time, but it will be the UFC’s largest event ever in Brazil. UFC 198: Werdum vs. Miocic will be held at the 40,000-seat Arena da Baixada. A UFC heavyweight championship fight between titleholder Fabricio Werdum and challenger Stipe Miocic already headlines the card.
Having last fought in Brazil nearly 10 years ago, Cyborg saw the opportunity to fight at UFC 198 as her last great shot at getting a fight in the Octagon. She has been actively campaigning for a spot on the card.
Past efforts centered around a marquee match-up between her and Ronda Rousey when Rousey was the UFC champ. Cyborg gave up on that fight when Rousey lost to Holly Holm at UFC 193, and Cyborg’s team determined that she could not safely make 135 pounds, a stipulation for her to fight the UFC champion.
Considering Cyborg’s efforts to make the bantamweight limit falling to the wayside, Rousey’s loss may have opened the door to the UFC considering her for the monster event planned for Curitiba. The UFC wants to pack the 40,000 seats. Cyborg’s popularity would go a long way in helping to accommodate that goal. With the focus off of a Rousey fight, at least at 135 pounds, the UFC could now be open to Cyborg fighting a non-title bout against someone already on it’s roster in a catchweight bout.
Aside from a catchweight fight, Cyborg’s situation makes for another interesting option. Despite being the Invicta FC 145-pound champ, Cyborg is currently under contract with Zuffa, LLC, the UFC’s parent company. This is due to a strong working relationship between the two promotions and the UFC’s hope of eventually being able to put Cyborg on one of its cards. So it wouldn’t be completely off base to have Cyborg defend her Invicta belt in the Octagon.
Is that something the UFC would pull the trigger on? It’s hard to say, but Cyborg’s popularity coupled with a return fight in Curitiba could sway the decision makers. It’s certainly something that Cyborg wants.
“I would like to fight in the UFC because it is something my fans have asked for a long time. I think it would be a great platform for me to show what women fighters are capable of achieving,” Cyborg recently told MMAWeekly.com.
“I know that there is only so much I can do to make this dream happen and if I never fight in the UFC, it was the way God planned things. I am blessed in the fact that my fans do not care what platform I am fighting on. They have continued to support me wherever I have went.”
Now, we’ll just have to wait and see if the UFC gives Cyborg’s hometown fans what they’ve been dying for: her return home.