After a long and contentious relationship with the UFC, Cris Cyborg announced on her Instagram that she is joining the number two promotion in MMA, Bellator.
The move will reunite her with Scott Coker, whom worked with Cyborg at the now defunct Strikeforce promotion to broker the largest fight in women’s MMA history at the time, Cyborg’s match against Gina Carano.
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#CyborgNation we have a new home where we will be respected! I’m excited to join the @bellatormma family. Click the link in my bio and follow the new Facebook page to find out who I will fight next and when the fight will happen! ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????? #CyborgNation a gente tem uma casa onde vamos ser respeitados!Eu estou muito feliz que estou no evento@bellatormma. Clique no link no minha bio e me digs no Facebook para decobrir when sera s minha proximate adversaria!
Even in the heyday of Ronda Rousey’s reign of terror, many hardcore fans still considered Cyborg the best female fighter on the planet. The dream matchup between the two women never materialized though. Like Ronda, the UFC essentially created a women’s division for Cyborg to compete in, even allowing her first two fights at a catch weight. She began her UFC run with a series of impressive wins, finishing her first three opponents with strikes to claim the featherweight title.
A highlight of her time in the UFC was her fight against Holly Holm, who was widely considered her only serious challenger in the division. Cyborg showcased her power punching style and won a unanimous decision.
But a year later, she suffered her first professional loss in over a decade at the hands of Amanda Nunes, which immediately put strain on her relationship with UFC management.
Cris Cyborg never had a smooth relationship with the organization. She was often in dispute with Dana White over various issues such as drug testing, matchmaking, and activity. Cyborg was never afraid to take these disputes public, although she may have suffered as many losses as wins in the court of public opinion.
With Bellator, Cyborg looks for a fresh start with a promotion that may be more willing to accommodate the 34 year old BJJ black belt. A title fight with Women’s Featherweight Champion Julia Budd seems inevitable. Beyond that Bellator may struggle to give Cyborg marquee names.
If Cyborg could win the Bellator title, she would be the only fighter in history to hold championship belts in Strikeforce, Invicta, Bellator, and the UFC.