Cris Cyborg believes leaving the UFC to join Bellator was a pivotal moment in her MMA career.

The Brazilian knockout artist made her long-awaited UFC debut in 2016, scoring a first-round win against Leslie Smith.

Cyborg picked up the featherweight title and three more wins before falling short against Amanda Nunes.

The 36-year-old bounced back from that defeat with a dominant win over Felicia to finish out her contract with the UFC.

Dana White announced that the UFC had no intention of renewing Cyborg’s contract and that she was free to negotiate with other promotions. The 36-year-old subsequently joined Bellator and she couldn’t be happier with how things have played out.

“I’m grateful to the UFC for the opportunity, but the fire in my heart was going out there,” Cyborg told AG Fight. “It was too uncomfortable, too disrespectful. Bellator put more firewood, I’m happier, I fight more. I have no problem outside (the cage), working with Scott (Coker) is cool, respects the athletes. You have to give yourself respect to be respected. I always respected where I was, but I wasn’t reciprocated in the same way”, she said, adding.

Cris Cyborg Has No Regrets About Signing With The UFC

Although things didn’t quite work out Cyborg insists that she has no regrets about signing for the UFC, as she learned a lot during her time with MMA’s premier promotion.

“I don’t regret (going to the UFC). I learned a lot in the UFC, it was one more thing to conquer and being there was something very important,” Cyborg said. “But I already went to the UFC being ‘Cyborg’, the UFC didn’t make me there. I arrived made. I was never welcomed from the start, but my fans campaigned and achieved this along with me. I had good moments.”

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A lifelong fight fan from Liverpool, England who has been covering mixed martial arts (MMA) and boxing for several years. Follow @JordanEllisUK on Twitter for all the latest fight news, views, interviews and live event coverage.