Tonya Evinger Explains Why She Accepted Cris Cyborg Fight

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For years, one of the talking points for hardcore women’s MMA fans has been Tonya Evinger’s absence from the UFC roster.

She is one of the better fighters that competed in Invicta FC, but it all comes back to her poor performance on TUF 18 when she was submitted by Raquel Pennington in her opening round bout.

To Evinger’s credit, she has proven the doubters wrong by going on a 7-0 (1 NC) winning streak. During that stretch, she made her debut for Invicta FC and picked up the promotion’s bantamweight title along the way.

There could be an argument that she is the best bantamweight not on the UFC roster. That’s no longer the case as she is set to make her UFC debut at UFC 214, but it will be no easy task as she is scheduled to fight top pound-for-pound talent Cris Cyborg in a featherweight bout.

Evinger told MMA Fighting that she expected nothing less if she ever got a chance to go to the UFC.

“I knew they weren’t gonna give me any kind of easy run,” Evinger said. “I knew I was going to get something as tough as they possibly could. But whatever, I’m here to fight.”

Even though the odds against her are stacked, she is still confident and went as far as saying that she believes she can and will be Cyborg’s toughest test to date.

“I think I’m her biggest challenge to date,” Evinger told MMA Fighting. “I’m not taking anything away from any of them other girls. All of them are good in their own right. It’s, just my style, anyway. I think I’m gonna be the toughest challenge for her.”

“You know what? I’m not a puss,” Evinger said. “I know it’s a struggle to get to 145 for her. I know what it is. It doesn’t matter, man. I’ll go home, and I’ll regret this for the rest of my life. ‘I could have beat her, maybe. I don’t know. Maybe I should have took the fight. Why was I such a puss?’ Was I scared to fight at 145? That’s not me, man. I’m not saying I’m gonna go out there and fight at 170 pounds tomorrow or the next fight or anything like that, but [145] is realistic. This ain’t too far off.

“I do think I’m really dominant at 135. I think I can definitely dominate at [145] and I think I can dominate at [125].”

She also had a few choice words for Germaine de Randamie’s decision to turn down a fight with Cyborg.

“There’s no way that being a champion you should be able to pick and choose your opponents. I’m there to fight. If I get beat, so be it. I’m not gonna not fight somebody to protect my championship belt. That’s ridiculous.”

UFC 214 takes place on July 29th at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California and will be headlined by a light heavyweight title fight between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier. Cris Cyborg vs. Tonya Evinger is scheduled to be one of two other title fights on the card, alongside Tyron Woodley vs. Demian Maia.