The UFC just can’t seem to find a happy medium with women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg.
And there could be a distinct reason for that.
After finally winning a UFC title against Invicta bantamweight champion Tonya Evinger at July’s UFC 214, Cyborg repeatedly called out for a title fight against former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm, who fought Germaine de Randamie in the inaugural UFC women’s featherweight title fight, at December 30’s UFC 219.
However, according to Cyborg, that booking is seeming more and more unlikely due to the payday the UFC is offering her. She tweeted last night that a scheduled meeting with the UFC had been called off because they were offering her a downgrade in pay to fight Holm:
— Cris Cyborg #Bellator238 (@criscyborg) October 3, 2017
The issue is merely the latest in a long string of back-and-forth troubles between the UFC and Cyborg, which were seemingly remedied after she was hit with a potential USADA violation last year, of which she was exonerated yet still did not fight in the first UFC women’s 145-pound title bout in the main event of February’s UFC 208.
It seemed getting Cyborg to the octagon was becoming tougher by the day, but the two sides hashed things out enough to get her inside the Octagon at UFC 214, where she dominated a tough Evinger en route to a third-round TKO stoppage. The stage was certainly set for Cyborg to realize her potential as one of MMA’s biggest stars (and most controversial draws) against Holm, who is quite possibly the only woman ready and willing to fight, other than Cyborg, at featherweight right now.
But with fighter pay and treatment one of the most heated topics in MMA in the year following WME-IMG’s then-record $4.2 billion UFC purchase, a champion probably won’t take a pay cut to fight a bigger name than she did for her previous bout, especially considering she’s finally champion. We’ve only gotten Cyborg’s side of the story for now, and UFC 219, at least of this writing, isn’t shaping up to be quite as impactful a card as UFC 214, which featured the long-awaited return of Jon Jones, was.
That could all change, of course, but Cyborg’s accusation at her employer, if true, would seem like just another unnecessary hold-up in an era where the UFC is trying to nickel and dime their fighters to death – even their champions.