By Adam Martin
One of the most dominant pound-for-pound fighters in the sport returns to the cage tonight for her next fight, but it seems like no one is talking about it.
Tonight, Cris “Cyborg” Justino returns to Invicta FC to defend her featherweight crown against unknown Daria Ibragimova in the main event of Invicta FC 15. The fight airs live on UFC Fight Pass, so it theoretically should have more hype behind it, but for whatever reason it seems like no one is talking about this matchup at all, even though Cyborg is one of the sport’s most polarizing figures, not to mention an amazing fighter.
Cyborg has won her last four fights via knockout, and save for a No Contest due to a positive drug test back in 2011, she’s won 14 straight fights, with her last eight wins coming via knockout. She’s beaten the best of the best at featherweight in the women’s ranks, but because she’s not in the UFC, it seems like only hardcore MMA fans know who she is. But while hardcores are usually pumped up for her bouts, this time around it seems like Cyborg is being forgotten about completely, as there is just no buzz surrounding this fight.
On one hand, I do blame the UFC and Invicta for not promoting this fight more. In fact, I just remembered it last week when I saw a poster for it floating around on Twitter, but otherwise, I’ve heard absolutely nothing for it. That lack of promotion, for both this fight and for the Invicta card in general, is the fault of the UFC and Invicta.
In some ways, it’s Cyborg’s fault that she’s fighting unknowns because she’s so damn good and no one wants to fight her. But at the same time, if she made more of an effort to get down to 135 lbs, then she could go over to the UFC and compete with the best bantamweights in the world. No doubt Cyborg is a big girl, but she’s also at fault for that because of her past steroid use. With USADA testing now, though, and with Cyborg continually testing clean for performance-enhancing-drugs, there has to be a way for her to make the requisite changes in regards to her diet and muscle mass that could help her get to 135 so she could finally go to the UFC and fight the best fighters in the world, not these Eastern European fighters no one has ever heard of.
Tonight at Invicta FC 15, I expect Cyborg to do her thing and get a first-round knockout win like she always does. But after that, I want to see her really make an attempt to get down to 135 and head to the UFC. She’s a great fighter, but she’s better than just being a Fight Pass headliner. It’s time for her to make the cut to bantamweight in the UFC, and only then will fans start to care about her again, because it’s pretty clear that right now they don’t.
Invicta FC 15
• Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino vs. Daria Ibragimova
Invicta FC 15: Cyborg vs. Ibragimova (formerly Invicta FC 15: Cyborg vs. Dandois) takes place on January 16, 2016 at The Hangar at OC Fair and Event Center in Costa Mesa, California.