The one woman considered as the biggest threat to Ronda Rousey could be finally UFC-bound.
In Talks With Zuffa
UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta confirmed to ESPN that he has been in contract negotiations with representatives of Invicta FC featherweight champion Cris “Cyborg” Justino this past two weeks. According to the report, the deal would let Justino fight in the UFC but at the same time keep her under the banner of the all-women’s MMA promotion Invicta FC. Invicta FC and Zuffa, the parent company of the UFC, have a close business relationship as the UFC’s Fight Pass currently air Invicta’s fights. Justino still has one fight remaining in her existing contract, and the UFC has shown interest in signing her.
The possibility of Cyborg fighting in the UFC opens the door for a potential mega showdown with women’s MMA superstar and UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey although according to Fertitta, “ a lot of things still need to happen” before that dream fight becomes a reality.
Cyborg Justino is considered by many as the only real threat to Ronda Rousey’s dominance in women’s MMA. The former Strikeforce women’s featherweight champion possesses the skill, experience and physicality that can match Rousey inside the octagon. The two appeared to be headed for a collision course during their stint at Strikeforce when Justino ruled as champion from 2009-2011. But a one year suspension after testing positive for the performance enhancing drug stanozol in 2011 kept Cyborg off the cage and Rousey’s succeeding drop to bantamweight killed the potential match-up. Justino has been linked to the UFC in the past year, especially after she declared to attempt to move down to 135 pounds, but an ankle injury scrapped this plan.
Justino has not competed since winning the inaugural bantamweight title at Invicta FC last July 2013 when she knocked out Marloes Coenen. Justino has been booked to make her first title defense on February 27 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles and incidentally, Rousey will defend her UFC belt against Cat Zingano on the same weekend ( February 28) at the co-main event of UFC 184 which will be held at the Staples Center.
Weight is An Issue
The main stumbling block to a Rousey-Justino fight is still the weight because Rousey has settled smoothly in the bantamweight class and has made four successful and dominant title defenses there. Secondly, the UFC does not carry a women’s featherweight class and has no immediate plans of making one to accommodate Justino. The UFC has always maintained that for the Rousey-Justino fight to happen, it should be at 135 pounds. Cyborg’s camp pegged a catchweight of 140 pounds but the UFC has not softened its stance as it also wants to protect its crown jewel in Rousey. That was the reason why Justino tried to move down in weight last year.
Justino is credited for retiring MMA pioneering star Gina Carano after she took the Strikeforce belt from Carano with a first round knockout in 2009. Carano has not fought since losing to Justino and has instead pursue an acting career. Like Justino, Carano was linked to a fight with Rousey last year and the UFC had negotiations for her to stage a comeback but that did not materialize. Justino and Rousey are slated to fight on the same weekend and in the same city, although not against each other-at least not yet.However, any deal which would bring Cyborg to the Octagon certainly keeps that fight closer to fruition.