Bellator president Scott Coker believes the UFC never had any real plans for a featherweight division for Cris Cyborg.

Cyborg departed the UFC late last year after a public spat with Dana White led to her release. She has since signed with Bellator, who unlike the UFC, have a flourishing featherweight division.

With Cyborg set to challenge Julia Budd for the women’s featherweight title at Bellator 238 this weekend, Coker spoke about what he thought was the UFC being more interested in Cyborg rather than the 145-pound division:

“I don’t think the UFC ever had an intention to start a 145-pound weight class,” Coker told MMA Junkie. “I think they wanted to be in the Cyborg business. That’s what it was.

“To build a division around her takes time and effort. You’ve got to go out and sign the people and nurture the fights. I think that was really one of the things that happened. They tied her up. Now, she’s free. Now, she’s here.”

The UFC featherweight division never really had any fighters in it during Cyborg’s tenure with most of her opponents being bantamweights who moved up.

At Bellator, meanwhile, she will have a wide range of opponents at featherweight — starting with Budd:

“We have a lot of girls she can fight and it starts with Julia Budd, who by the way looks like she’s in amazing shape,” Coker added. “She’s going to come and bring it. I tell everyone, ‘Don’t underestimate her. This girl can throw down and she’s dangerous.’ I’m expecting a great fight on Saturday night.”

Do you agree with Coker?

Experienced freelance sports writer covering mixed martial arts (MMA) extensively for the last few years. Likes a good body shot.