Cristiane ‘Cyborg’ Justino is perhaps the best women’s MMA fighter of all time. She has also cultivated a reputation as one of the most ferocious and intimidating fighters in the sport, regardless of gender. But Justino has the misfortune of fighting in a division – 145 pounds – that is thin in the women’s ranks. As such, the Chute Boxe representative has had a difficult time finding suitable opposition for much of her career. Her imposing physicality and ever-improving skill set mean that few women in her weight class can withstand her.

Contrary to her profile as a savage finisher, the woman known as ‘Cyborg’ has not always been as dangerous as her current iteration. That is reason there are not more victims on this list.

She lost her MMA debut via kneebar, and has gradually shored up her grappling skills throughout her career. Justino has always been physically imposing, but her striking and wrestling have come a long way from when she won her first major title in Strikeforce in 2009. In that fight against Gina Carano, ‘Cyborg’ repeatedly found herself in compromising positions. She relied on brute strength and her clinch game to carry her through large portions of the contest.

Since then, as she has developed her boxing and jiu jitsu to match her her physicality and vicious clinch game, she has dominated her foes more and more. As her second fight in the UFC approaches, a 140-pound catchweight against Lina Lansberg, let us take a look back at the opponents Cristiane Justino has crushed most mercilessly.


6. Leslie Smith

‘Cyborg’s’ most recent test came in her long-awaited UFC debut against Leslie Smith at UFC 198 on May 14, 2016.’The Peacemaker’ could not withstand the war Justino would bring to her.

A tough competitor moving up from bantamweight, few gave Smith a chance as she got set to do battle with ‘Cyborg’ in Justino’s hometown of Curitiba, Brazil. Smith entered the contest with an unimpressive 8-6-1 record, not giving fight fans much reason to like her chances. Granted, she had fought some of the best 125 and 135-pounders in the world, including Barb Honchak, Jennifer Maia, Sarah Kaufmann, and Raquel Pennington. But she enjoyed mixed results against that level of competition, and ‘Cyborg’ is on a different plane altogether.

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The fight played out as most expected. ‘Cyborg’s’ boxing was too technical and too powerful, and she quickly clipped Smith. The Diaz brothers’ training partner was known for the same toughness that is her teammates’ trademark. It made no difference. After dropping Smith, Justino pounced and sealed the finish with punches just 81 seconds into the contest.


5. Hitomi Akano

Justino entered her first bout in Strikeforce against Hitomi Akano having already fought in the US twice. After starting her career in her hometown of Curitiba, Brazil, she came to the US to fight for EliteXC. She fought women’s MMA pioneer and future UFC veteran Shayna Baszler in her first fight stateside and took out the ‘The Queen of Spades’ in the second round.

After EliteXC folded, many of the organization’s fighters defected to the San Jose-based Strikeforce. ‘Cyborg’ was among them. She came in against Akano with a 7-1 record, but was not yet the fearsome, Tyson-esque figure she would become. Still, Akano had no answer for her.

A former champion in the Japanese Smackgirl organization, Akano was riding a three-fight winning streak when she squared off with ‘Cyborg’ at Strikeforce: Shamrock vs. Diaz on April 11, 2009. Prior to that, though, the Japanese standout had lost three of four. She was a bantamweight who fought 125 or 135-pound fighters for most of her career, but she stepped up to 145 to battle ‘Cyborg’.

It was not much of a battle. Akano was on the defensive from the outset. When she tried to stay away from Justino, the Brazilian picked her apart from range. When Akano attempted to smother the punches of her hulking opponent, she was met with vicious clinch strikes. Her only offense came in the form of a couple flying submission attempts that fell well short of finishing.

In the end, she succumbed to a barrage of punches early in the third round. ‘Cyborg’ would go on to capture the Strikeforce featherweight championship and raise her star significantly in her very next fight against Carano.


4. Fiona Muxlow

Justino enjoyed a dominant title reign in Strikeforce, but it was marred by a positive test for steroids in her final defense. This stuck her with a one-year suspension. Worse, UFC parent company Zuffa purchased Strikeforce and absorbed its roster, but only created a 135-pound women’s division. Left on the outside looking in, ‘Cyborg’ would have to look elsewhere to resume her career.

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She found a perfect place to do so in the all-female Invicta Fighting Championships. At Invicta FC 5 on April 5, 2013, Justino debuted in a title eliminator against Fiona Muxlow.

The Tiger Muay Thai representative was 6-2 as a professional. But the Australia native lacked a signature win and was coming off a first-round armbar loss to two-time ‘Cyborg’ opponent, Marloes Coenen.

Her lack of pedigree showed on fight night. ‘Cyborg’ dropped Muxlow right out of the gate. Though the Queenslander did a good job surviving and persevering into the second half of the round, Justino polished her off at 3:46 into the fight.


3. Charmaine Tweet

Following her title-clinching performance against Coenen at Invicta FC 6 on July 13, 2013, Justino went on a run of bashing overmatched challengers in the Invicta cage. Her first test came in the form of Charmaine Tweet, and ‘Cyborg’ aced it easily.

“Not So Sweet” came into the fight with a 6-4 record. She had actually lost her pro debut to none other than Ronda Rousey. Other notable opponents included a victory over future Invicta fighter Amanda Bell and a loss to Invicta and Bellator standout Julia Budd. Before squaring off with ‘Cyborg’, Tweet earned a TKO victory in her second Invicta fight. Still, she was vastly unprepared for the beating she was about to receive.

Headlining Invicta FC 13 on February 27, 2015, Justino showed no ill-effects from her year and a half long layoff. In fact, ‘Cyborg’ looked better than ever. At this point in her career, Justino really started to show off the technical improvements she was making to her game. No longer did she rely on brute force and physicality to overwhelm opponents. She could now calmly set up shots at range, and land them with her trademark power. Now the Brazilian could brutalize foes without having to swing her way into the clinch.

That’s exactly what happened to Tweet. ‘Cyborg’s’ power immediately had the Canadian on the defensive. As Tweet tried to stick and move, she found herself mostly retreating, and she was felled by a flush right hook to the jaw. A brutal barrage of ground and pound followed, but Tweet would survive. Justino stood and allowed her bloodied and battered challenger to return to her feet, only to resume her assault. A straight right in the mouth and another straight to the body had Tweet covering up, and that was it.

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2. Faith Van Duin

The next victim on Justino’s tour of destruction through the Invicta ranks was Faith Van Duin. The New Zealander was just 5-1 prior to facing the best and most imposing fighter in women’s MMA.

Van Duin’s most impressive resume-builder was winning a one-night tournament for the Storm MMA women’s featherweight championship two years prior. But she lost her very next bout, and only held onto her championship because her opponent failed to make weight. She then joined Invicta and submitted her first opponent.

The two met at Invicta FC 13 on July 9, 2016. Van Duin would meet a fate similar to that of Tweet. While Van Duin showed a good chin in eating some early shots from ‘Cyborg’, the positives would not last. Justino battered the New Zealander on a clinch break with heavy punches. After initiating another clinch, Justino forced Van Duin to her back and hammered away with ground and pound against the fence.

Referee Steve Mazagati stepped in wave off the contest at just 45 seconds of round number one. It was one second less than Tweet had lasted five months earlier.


1. Hiroko Yamanaka

‘Cyborg’ took on Japanese standout Hiroko Yamanaka in her final and ill-fated Strikeforce title defense at Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Masvidal on December 17, 2011.

In ‘Cat’s Eye’ Hiroko, Justino faced a 5’11” veteran of the Jewels and Smackgirl Japanese promotions. Hiroko had amassed a 12-1 record, with her only defeat coming at the hands of former Justino opponent Hitomi Akano. Unlike Akano, however, Yamanaka was a natural featherweight.

Regardless, Yamanaka found herself at a prominent strength and power disadvantage immediately. As soon as the referee said “Fight!”, ‘Cyborg’ came out of her corner ready to bludgeon the Japanese veteran.

That’s exactly what she did.

Justino pounded her into oblivion, and 16 seconds after it began, the referee was saving Yamanaka from further damage.

‘Cyborg’ Justino will look to add another name to her long list of victims this Saturday, September 24, 2016, when she dukes it out with ‘The Elbow Princess’, Lina Lansberg, at UFC Fight Night 95. Tune into LowKickMMA for all the coverage of the Brazilian legend’s second UFC fight.

Josh found MMA in 2009 and has been an increasingly voracious consumer of the sport ever since. He started writing in January 2016, first as a blogger and then as a writer for LowKickMMA. He produces historical list pieces, occasional news coverage, opinions, and fight analysis for LK. He also co-hosts the Daily Fantasy Knockout podcast.