By Adam Martin
Another night, another fight, another easy paycheck for Cris "Cyborg" Justino.
At UFC Fight Night 95 this past Saturday in Brasilia, the Brazilian Muay Thai expert picked apart her latest victim, Lina Lansberg, dominating the Swede until the referee had finally seen enough and called for a second-round TKO stoppage. It was Cyborg's second straight knockout win in the UFC (the first coming against Leslie Smith at UFC 198 this past May) improving Cyborg's overall win streak to seven straight fights, with all of those wins coming by TKO.
Cyborg, in fact, has not lost in MMA since her pro debut in 2010. Since then, the 31 year old is 17-0 with one No Contest, with 15 of those victories coming by way of knockout, and her last decision win coming back in 2008. To say Cyborg has been dominant would be an understatement. Quite frankly, she has been unbeatable, and with so few capable women featherweight fighters to challenge her, there's a good chance Cyborg keeps winning against inferior opponents in vicious fashion.
And while sure, it's fun to see a knockout, Cyborg's fights have basically all been foregone conclusions even before the two fighters stepped into the cage -- just look at the odds -- with the lone exception being Gina Carano (that fight was a Pick 'em at the sports books), who Cyborg ended up beating (and retiring) anyway. It would be nice to see her get tested by someone.
However, it's really hard to say just who could beat Cyborg, because at this point she would be a massive betting favorite over just about any woman who steps into the cage with her, but for the purposes of this piece, here are five possible opponents for Cyborg who might be able to give her a challenge:
Germaine De Randamie
Like De Randamie, Holm matches up quite well with Cyborg as far as size goes, with each measuring in at 5'8" and Holm holding a slight one-inch reach advantage. Holm has an incredible amount of professional boxing experience, and as she showed in her career-defining knockout win over Ronda Rousey back at UFC 193, she has fantastic kickboxing skills as well. We know that Holm's ground game is her weakness based on her loss against Miesha Tate, and she looked gunshy against Valentina Shevchenko in her last outing, but Holm has the potential to land that big knockout blow, and she is incredibly durable as well. If Holm is willing to move up from 135 lbs for a big fight with Cyborg, this would be a really fun one for the fans, and the perfect Fox main event between two of the UFC's female stars.
first-round stoppage loss to Amanda Nunes, perhaps fighting Cyborg wouldn't be the best idea for Tate, but we do know she's up for the challenge. Tate, in fact, has already said she "would love" to fight Cyborg, although that was back when Tate was champion. Much has changed in the last few months, obviously, but this would still be a big fight, one that could easily be a pay-per-view co-main event. Despite the loss to Nunes, Tate's durability has always been one of her biggest assets, and she'll need that against Cyborg. With tremendous cardio and a great chin, if Tate is able to weather the early storm from Cyborg, perhaps she could drag the fight into deep waters any make it interesting. Would she be willing to move up from 135 lbs, though, is the question.
I'm not completely sold on Anderson as being a threat to Cyborg like most fans are, but there's no question the 26-year-old Aussie has been impressive in Invicta, going 3-1 with three straight knockout wins in the world's top female MMA promotion. Knocking out Peggy Morgan and Amanda Bell isn't exactly impressive, but the women's featherweight division is pretty weak, so at least she has a highlight reel for promotional purposes. There has been some buzz for this fight on social media because of Anderson's knockout power, and at 6'0" Anderson matches up quite well with Cyborg in size. This might be better suited as an Invicta main event for Cyborg's featherweight belt instead of taking place in the UFC, but it's definitely a fight that may happen sooner than later, based on both the hype and the lack of available quality opponents for Cyborg .
It would be wrong to write this article and not mention Rousey, so here it is. No, I do not expect this fight to be booked -- I never thought Rousey would have taken the fight, even when she was the undefeated champ prior to the Holm knockout -- but there's no doubt it would be by far the biggest fight the UFC could book. The problem is that Rousey hasn't fought in nearly a year, and the last time she did she was knocked out cold. Plus there's always that question of what weight class this fight would take place at. It's unlikely Rousey would move up from 135lbs, and it's unlikely Cyborg could make bantamweight, so this fight is a pipe dream, but if it happened, it could potentially headline the biggest blockbuster pay-per-view in UFC history.
UFC Fight Night 95: Cyborg vs. Lansberg took place on September 24, 2016 at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium in Brasilia, Brazil.