Cris Cyborg has long been an advocate for women’s MMA, and the Bellator Featherweight Champion recently showed her commitment to the cause by flying out to the African nation of Zambia, where she attended the inaugural MMA Zambia Symposium.

Coinciding with the symposium was the launch of the women’s national MMA commission, which aims to attract more females in Zambia to MMA. The event was held between Nov 25 -28 in the country’s capital city of Lusaka, and the organizers hailed Cyborg’s presence as a huge success.

“Cris [Cyborg] for us represents everything we are about in terms of female empowerment and gender-based violence awareness. And it was the perfect opportunity for us to launch the Women’s Commission, which is the first in Africa,” said Benjamin Bush, the president of Mixed Martial Arts Zambia.

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Cyborg is one of the female MMA’s biggest stars, and while some athletes prefer not to be associated with the label of ‘role mode,’ the 36-year-old Brazillian made it clear that she takes her position as both a well-known name and a world champion seriously.

“Being a world champion is a big responsibility. Whatever place God puts you in, if he makes you a Champion, it’s not to be Champion for yourself, it’s for something else, whether it be to make a difference in the world and to change people’s lives, but I want to be Champion of Hearts for my people,” Cyborg said.

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“So, this project helps to empower vulnerable youth and women and to bring awareness to the sport in this country as a tool for positive social change for its people and their communities. It is this part of my life that I enjoy the most, helping others wherever I am and using my experience and platform as an example to give hope to people of having a better life.”

Cyborg is riding high at the moment after an impressive first-round KO victory over Ireland’s Sinead Kavanagh at Bellator 217. It was the third defense of her featherweight strap. After more than a decade in MMA, it would be easy to assume that Cyborg’s passion for the sport may have dimmed, but it is still burning as bright as ever.

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“Every time I win my fight and my titles, I never feel like I’m defending my belt. I always feel like I’m fighting for it, even after 13 years. That’s how I stay strong. Everyone always tells me, “Cris, I’m gonna take your belt,” but it doesn’t worry me because, well, I’m going to take my belt too because I have the mindset for it. “

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