Cris Cyborg is gearing up for the next chapter of her legendary mixed martial arts (MMA) career.
After parting ways with the UFC, Cyborg will join Bellator MMA and challenge featherweight champion Julia Budd in her promotional debut later this month. The pair will collide at Bellator 238 on January 25 from Inglewood, California. Upon Cyborg’s exit from the UFC last year, many thought a rematch between the former UFC women’s featherweight champion and current titleholder Amanda Nunes would come to fruition.
Nunes defeated Cyborg in 51 seconds during their initial meeting back in December of 2018. When Cyborg’s next and final bout of her UFC contract was announced, many were surprised to see the Brazilian knockout artist matched up with Felicia Spencer rather than Nunes. Cyborg would go on to sign with Bellator, who the former champion believes houses the very best 145 pounds has to offer.
“You’ll have to ask Dana [White] why they gave me Felicia Spencer instead of Nunes as the last fight on my contract, but my team tried to make that fight before I became a Free Agent. Unable to come to terms we signed the best deal of my career after testing the market,” Cyborg told LowKickMMA. “[Scott] Coker has already let me know that if there is a path to that rematch, he is willing to make it happen.
“The reality is the best featherweights are in Bellator and the UFC women’s champion is kind of on an island by themselves without any contenders. Maybe Bellator can do a Featherweight Grand Prix in Japan and Dana can send Amanda like he sent Chuck [Liddell] to against Rampage.
“If there is an opportunity to make that fight for the fans it is something I would like to give them, however my career isn’t defined by one loss–just like hers hasn’t been defined by the defeats on her record.”
Now, Cyborg is ready to move on and focus on the task at hand, Julia Budd at Bellator 238. Not only is Cyborg making her promotional debut for Bellator, but she’s jumping right into a title contest against one of the best women’s MMA has to offer at the moment. However, with nearly 15 years of experience in the sport, Cyborg isn’t really feeling the pressure.
“I’ve had promotional debts before,” Cyborg said. “I have had fights for a world title before. I’ve gone 13 years undefeated before. If anything I would say the pressure is on Julia Budd. My career is established, nothing will erase the things I have already accomplished in this sport.
“I am starting a new chapter in my career and that motivates me. I want to prove that I am the best featherweight in the world and the way to do that is to beat Julia Budd at Bellator 238.”
Budd presents a very interesting matchup for Cyborg. The current Bellator 145-pound champ is on an 11-fight win streak and hasn’t tasted defeat since 2011. Cyborg knows what it’s like to be an undefeated fighter with a lengthy winning streak, and the target on your back that it comes with. She’s anticipating a “classic” between herself and Budd come fight night on January 25.
“Budd will be a great opponent,” Cyborg said. “I know what it is like to have a long unbeaten streak and I’m sure with each fight the backpack she wears becomes just a little bit heavier with each win. I am excited to test my skills against hers January 25 and think this matchup is going to make for a classic fight in the history of women’s mixed martial arts.”
Do you agree that the best featherweights in the world are in Bellator?