With everyone looking forward to the three superfights that the UFC has in mind for this year, everyone was slightly disappointed to hear that Cris Cyborg was going to be defending her UFC women’s featherweight title against former Invicta FC bantamweight champon Yana Kunitskaya. It turns out it is still just a speed bump in the way of her anticipated fight with Amanda Nunes. That is, if they both win. Either way, the decision to step in and help prop up UFC 222 was strategic. Cyborg is hoping that if she scratches the UFC’s back, they’ll scratch hers.
“[Stepping in to fight Yana Kunitskaya] was a great opportunity to keep the momentum from the win against Holly [Holm] and get me back into the octagon quickly so ‘Cyborg Nation’ can keep growing. I’m going to have to start putting a mouth guard in my purse if this fight pace continues the rest of 2018, though. […] When [the UFC] called saying they needed a new main event, we saw this as an opportunity to prove to everyone that Cris Cyborg can be a company girl and that I’m willing to step up when the promotion needs it. I am hoping this will continue to build my relationship within the promotion and lead to the type of marketing and exposure I have been asking for.”
— UFC (@ufc) February 8, 2018
“I want to make this my fight and give the fans the violent performance they have come to expect from me. Fans have seen me wrestle. Fans have seen me strike. Maybe the fans will see my Brazilian jiu jitsu. After winning my first bonus [in the UFC 219 main event], I am hoping to make this the fight of the night. […] I have told my manager I am willing to fight [Amanda] Nunes and am leaving it to him to negotiate when and where that happens. If she wins in Brazil [against Raquel Pennington] and I win March 3rd [against Yana Kunitskaya], I think the [date] that makes the most sense [is] on the huge [UFC 226] fight card in Vegas. In order for that to happen, we both have to win.” — Cris Cyborg speaking to the LA Times.
After a roller coaster past with the UFC, Cris Cyborg is working towards going down her new path as UFC champion on the right foot. They desperately were searching for some sort of title fight to headline UFC 222 and Cyborg stepped up. Everyone gets money, we’re still likely to see her face Amanda Nunes at UFC 226, and Cyborg gets to fight again to put fresh eyes on her skills before the hyped bout potentially gets made. Everybody wins.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 2/13/2018.