May 23, 2016

UFC 198: The UFC Now Has Ample Opportunity To Transform 'Cyborg' Into A Bigger Star

By Raphael Garcia

The UFC corrected a major misstep when it added Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino to the UFC 198 event. She’s a major Brazilian star who captivated fans with her quick stoppage of Leslie Smith on the PPV main card. Now that the fight is over, questions are circling about how the promotion will use her in the future. That’s a compelling thought, and the answer creates a number of lucrative opportunities for the company and the fighters involved.

According to Justino’s comments during the post-fight press conference, she would like to continue defending her Invicta featherweight title while taking catchweight fights within the Octagon. This is a solid plan that allows Invicta to keep its biggest name while also allowing the UFC to leverage her value. However, early last week, the UFC announced on Fox Sports 1 that it plans to have Cyborg face Germaine de Randamie at UFC 201 in what would be a 140-pound catchweight affair. In response, Cyborg took to Twitter to balk at that idea.

Cyborg denied the reports via her official Twitter account. “I will defend my world title 145lbs next @InvictaFights.”

Even though Cyborg weighed in at 139 pounds for the Smith fight, her comments continue to raise questions about her commitment to fighting at bantamweight at some point. 135 is the division where some of the biggest fights available reside, as most potential opponents have been apprehensive about moving up to face Justino in catchweight fights. However, former champion Holly Holm has recently said that she’d be willing to do so; this is the type of fight that the UFC should look to leverage.

What does that mean for Invicta? First off, company won’t lose its biggest star. Invicta is the place to go to for premier women’s MMA, and having Cyborg fight in the UFC from time to time will allow that message to be spread to a larger audience, hopefully drawing some eyes to its cards on UFC Fight Pass. The promotion could even allow her next title fight to take place in the UFC’s Octagon, on a card meant to push both Cyborg as a competitor and Invicta as a promotion. The goal of this arrangement would be to draw the link for fight fans looking to seek out the smaller company to satiate their need for additional MMA.

The UFC seemed to make a misstep by announcing Cyborg’s next fight before solidifying the proposition with the competitor. The company has a penchant for looking out for its interests first, but Cyborg is one competitor that has consistently pushed back against the UFC, and she has the leverage to do so. Her performance at UFC 198 proved that she’s a viable athlete regardless of all the efforts the organization has taken to discredit her.

The UFC has long created matchups that make more sense for entertainment value than for the practice of sport. With that in mind, the company doesn’t have a good reason to keep Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino out of the Octagon. Fans, fighters, and both the UFC and Invicta stand to gain so much more from keeping her active and in front of the largest group of eyes possible.

UFC 198
Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino vs. Leslie Smith: Cris Cyborg def. Leslie Smith via TKO (strikes) at 1:21 of Round 1.

Click the stars to rate this fight.


UFC 198: Werdum vs. Miocic took place on May 14, 2016 at Arena da Baixada in Curitiba, Parana, Brazil.

Click the stars to rate how good you think UFC 198 was.

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