|Jeff Bottari-LLC Zuffa
Cyborg once again faces a career crossroads, which turn will she take?
At this current time, Cris Cyborg is officially a free agent. After a unanimous decision victory over Felicia Spencer at UFC 240, in what was the last bout on her contract, and ultimately the last match she would compete in for the promotion, Dana White confirmed that the UFC would not be negotiating a new deal with the Brazilian. It’s undeniably been a topsy-turvy relationship, to say the least between the pair, but all ties seem to be broken after last week’s media foray.
In a video documenting the lead-up and subsequent result of Cyborg’s clash with former Invicta FC featherweight champion Felicia Spencer, some controversial editing was brought to light by the Curitiba favorite. In the video, we can see a post-fight exchange with Cyborg and Dana White, in which Cyborg explains to White how she wants a rematch with Amanda Nunes for the featherweight title. Cyborg also accuses Dana of lying during the conversation which the promotion President adamantly denies.
During the subtitled clip, we can see Dana say; “And listen, whenever you hear me saying stuff I’m not saying …the truth.” It later transpired that Cyborg’s production team had doctored the footage surrounding that quote, falsifying it. The narrative Dana White was running with throughout the previous months was Cyborg’s reluctance to face Nunes again, telling how she was “scared” of her compatriot. During a sit-down interview with Laura Sanko, White confirmed how “We’re (the UFC) out of the Cyborg business“, effectively ending they’re working relationship. Since then, the UFC has waived Cyborg’s three-month exclusive negotiating period which will freely allow her to sign for an organization whenever she sees fit.
So, where next for Cris Cyborg?
A move to rival North American promotion Bellator MMA may be on the horizon for Cyborg, with a lucrative offer a realistic possibility from Scott Coker, who of course signed Cyborg to Strikeforce back in 2009. At the moment, Bellator’s featherweight division is ruled supreme by Canada’s Julia ‘The Jewel’ Budd. Successfully defending her title three times since a stoppage win over Marloes Coenen in the inaugural clash, Cyborg would present a gargantuan obstacle for a fourth defense on the trot. Speaking with MMA Fighting recently, Budd outlined her hope that Cyborg would join her in the Bellator ranks. “I think it makes perfect sense. The best 145-pounders in the world are here, it makes sense if she comes over to Bellator. I hope she signs with Bellator but we’ll see what she decides to do. I don’t know what her career plans are right now.” A matchup between Budd and Cyborg would be hugely marketable for the Brazil native’s promotional bow.
A return to her former employers Invicta FC is also a possibility. Cyborg traded Invicta FC for the UFC almost five years ago, leaving the organization as the world champion. The promotion is yet to crown a featherweight champion since the aforementioned Felicia Spencer vacated in March, with Pam Sorenson and Kaitlin Young vying for the vacant crown this weekend. During the previously mentioned interview with Laura Sanko, Dana White told how Cyborg was interested in making the Pam Sorenson fight in the UFC instead of defending against Nunes at UFC 232. “She wanted to fight Cindy Dandois or Pam Sorenson, and I told Cyborg, we don’t make those fights here. That’s not what we’re doing, you’re going to fight Amanda Nunes.” A matchup with Pam Sorenson may finally materialize if the Minnesota native can get past Young, and Cyborg elects to resign with Invicta FC.
Professional Fighters League:
Formally known by the moniker World Series of Fighting, the Washington D.C. based promotion is now known as the Professional Fighters League, spearheaded by former Kickboxing ace Ray Sefo. Similarly to Julia Budd, PFL’s leading female fighter has also issued a challenge to Cyborg. Current lightweight champion and Olympic gold medalist Judoka Kayla Harrison has called for a showdown with the Brazilian should she sign with the organization. Speaking with TMZ Sports recently, Harrison told of her confidence in securing a win if paired with the 34-year-old.
“I think she would fit right in at the PFL. First of all, it’s at 155 pounds so she wouldn’t be dying to make the weight like she does at 145 (pounds) and I think there’s not really anybody else out there their gonna give her. I’m going to beat Cris Cyborg if she comes to the PFL and I don’t think ant other organization can offer her that. Plus it’s a win, you fight, you move on type of atmosphere so she’s not gonna have to worry about the promotors liking her or not liking her which seems to be a big problem for her. If you win, you get to continue.” Another tempting factor in a potential move to PFL would be the much more suitable 155-pound lightweight division, which would benefit Cyborg toward the twilight of her professional mixed-martial-arts career.