MMA Ratings Podcast

January 27, 2020

Bellator 238: Cris Cyborg Proves the UFC Should Have Never Let Her Go

By Adam Martin

One of the biggest mistakes the Ultimate Fighting Championships has made in recent years was releasing Cris Cyborg from her contract and allowing her to sign a free-agent deal with Bellator MMA. Cyborg is arguably the most dominant female MMA fighter of all time, and the UFC had the right to match any deal made to her, but chose to waive that right and let her sign with the promotion's biggest rival in Bellator.
UFC President Dana White allowed his emotions to come into play and override making a smart business decision. He didn't like Cyborg, and he made that known publicly on numerous occasions. So when the UFC got into a contract dispute with Cyborg about a potential rematch against Amanda Nunes, White decided he didn't want to deal with what he perceived was a headache and let her go.

It was a mistake. In Cyborg's first fight since being released by the UFC, she destroyed Bellator Women's Featherweight Champion Julia Budd to add yet another gold belt to her mantle. Cyborg is now the first fighter in MMA history to win a title in the UFC, Strikeforce, Invicta FC, and now in Bellator. She's at the top of her game, and letting her go willingly was a really bad call for the UFC.

There have been times in the past when the UFC has let go of fighters that the promotion believed were past their prime, and they were proven to be right; Rory MacDonald hasn't been the same fighter in Bellator that he was in the UFC, and Eddie Alvarez doesn't appear to be the same either. But in this case, especially in a shallow division like women's featherweight, the decision to let go of Cyborg is just mind-boggling.

Even if the UFC was having issues getting Cyborg to agree to the Nunes rematch -- and Cyborg says she was open to it but didn't want to be bullied into it -- there was no need to be hasty and rush the decision to cut ties with her. The UFC could have taken its time and seen what kind of offers she got on the open market and then made its decision, but instead, they rushed into outright releasing her, in what can only be viewed as a spiteful move designed to get other promotions to make lower offers.

The biggest problem the UFC has at women's featherweight right now is that it has a champion in Nunes but no one to fight her. Felicia Spencer is a solid fighter, but Cyborg beat her up for three rounds in her final UFC fight before departing to Bellator. Megan Anderson has been inconsistent in the UFC, and Nunes has already beaten Holly Holm. The Cyborg rematch is the only fight that would be intriguing for Nunes at 145 pounds.

Instead of MMA fans getting to see Nunes vs. Cyborg 2 -- and their first fight was amazing -- we might now see Nunes vs. Spencer and Cyborg vs. Arlene Blencowe in Bellator. Neither of those fights is as intriguing as the rematch would be. The fans are the ones who are bearing the burden of White not being able to make a deal with Cyborg, and that's very disappointing.

Ultimately Cris Cyborg seems happy with her deal in Bellator and with fighting under Scott Coker again, but one can't help but feel that if Dana White was a little more open-minded, we could have seen her fighting Nunes in the UFC once again. But that didn't happen, and we may never know how a rematch would go. Ultimately, we the fans are the ones who lose, due to White's utter refusal to reach an agreement with Cyborg.

Bellator 238
Julia Budd vs. Cris Cyborg (Women's FW Championship): Cris Cyborg def. Julia Budd via TKO (punches) at 1:14 of Round 4.

Bellator 238: Budd vs. Cyborg took place January 25, 2020 at The Forum in Inglewood, California.

Click HERE for more Bellator 238 Post-Fight Analysis

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