It’s arguably the biggest fight made this decade in women’s mixed martial arts and it goes down at the end of this year between Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino (20 – 1 – 0) and Amanda ‘Lioness’ Nunes (16 – 4 – 0). A superfight if you will, the likes of which has never been seen before in women’s mixed martial arts. It’s a champion vs champion bout with two of the most dominant athletes in their respective weight categories going head to head on December 29th at UFC 232, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas when ‘Cyborg’ will look to defend her featherweight strap.
When I reached out to Cyborg ahead of her showdown she appeared pretty matter or fact when responding to me on the forthcoming clash, “It is our job to fight,” she said. “Nunes called me out, now she gets to handle it. Everyone I fight calls me a dominant MMA fighter. Nunes is just another fighter.”
Cyborg and Nunes are clearly breaking new ground here, in short making history. I get the sense of a missed opportunity that a women’s mixed martial arts super fight has not occurred before now. Given the amount of anticipation that occurred prior to her signing with the UFC it’s clear that there was one fight that she was keen on before this one that has now become a non starter. “There should have been a 145lbs division much earlier,” Cyborg said, “Fans would have enjoyed this super fight sooner, maybe even when Ronda was still the champ.”
At the time of writing this it has yet to be confirmed whether this fight will take the headline spot. Given the dominance Cyborg has shown to date one would expect, rightly so, that this bout should main event what will undoubtedly amount to a stacked card befitting of the magnitude of this seminal moment. Cyborg seems to emphasise how irrelevant her place on the card is in responding to whether a place at the top of the bill is something she is pressing for. “I was the main event last new years against Holly Holm.” Continuing Cyborg replied, “I will fight wherever the UFC places me on the card.”
A fan favourite, belt holder and a fighter that has traction on the UFC’s roster you would have thought that contract negotiations would be underway to retain her on the UFC’s books. This being her last fight under her existing contract you would expect an element of leverage being exercised given how she usually performs in crowd pleasing fashion. Contacts, however, are the furthest thing from her mind as she explains, “I have not renewed my contract. I have one more fight or until March after this fight, whichever comes first. My manager will negotiate for me.”
In the past Cyborg has made no secret of her love for boxing and given the open endedness of her contractual situation it would appear that this is perhaps an option that could be a real and possible route she might entertain in the future. Cyborg is clear about her focus by saying, “I have many options. My focus right now is on Nunes. It is a great fight. I will fight hard and leave the glory to god.”