After dominant women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey destroyed former No. 1 contender Alexis Davis with a 16-second knockout at UFC 175 last Saturday (Jul 5, 2014), the promotion was left wondering just whom Rousey would fight next.
After all, who was available that could actually give Rousey a true test? No. 1-ranked Cat Zingano was set to come back from her debilitating knee injuries, but after being out of the cage for nearly a year-and-a-half, Zingano opted to take a tune-up fight against Amanda Nunes at UFC 178.
News broke last night that the UFC signed undefeated Legacy FC women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm, the former professional boxer who could give Rousey a run for her money on the feet.
But on the ground, well, that’s a different story altogether, and there is only one woman widely considered strong enough to actually have a chance at dethroning the UFC queen. That woman is of course Invicta FC featherweight champion Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino, who has teased a move down to bantamweight in order to square off with Rousey.
Today, it looks like that scenario is getting closer to being a reality, as Invicta FC President Shannon Knapp told MMA Junkie that “Cyborg” will be making her bantamweight debut against a yet-to-be-determined opponent at Invicta FC 10 in December, which will air on Fight Pass after the promotion recently signed an exclusive content deal with the UFC.
Knapp also declared that Justino’s second bantamweight contest could come as soon as February or March of 2015.
It’s going to take some effort for “Cyborg” to get down to 135 pounds, as her manager George Prajin declared her team has hired performance and conditioning coach Tony Aponte, who’s aided BJ Penn with his weight cuts in the past. Prajin stated that “Cyborg’s” goal is to get to an everyday weight of 155 pounds to make bantamweight, as she’s walked around as high as 180 pounds while fighting at featherweight.
Justino’s perceived move to the UFC is apparently some time off, but Prajin had a short statement for the UFC concerning their prized female champion:
“If (the UFC) thinks she’s the best fighter in the world, then obviously they think she’s ready.”
It’s not really a question of whether or not Rousey is ready, however. It’s more an issue of getting “Cyborg” down to Rousey’s weight class, and then dealing with the massive amount of drug testing fallout that is going to accompany her fighting in a top-level UFC pay-per-view (PPV) in Las Vegas.
Justino has fought at bantamweight before, her last outing ironically being a second round TKO finish of Rousey’s good friend Shayna Baszler under the EliteXC banner in 2008.
The stage is set for “Cyborg” to eventually make her way to the UFC. Will her long-awaited grudge match with “Rowdy” become a reality?