Cris Cyborg officially signed with Bellator two weeks ago. The former UFC featherweight champion was released from the Las Vegas-based promotion after her UFC 240 bout — partly due to her crumbling relationship with UFC President Dana White.
Cris Cyborg talked to many promotions when her free agency began, but she always knew she would land with Bellator.
“Bellator was the place I wanted to go [to]. I worked with [Bellator President] Scott Coker at Strikeforce, and he has always been able to find the best fighters in the world,” Cris Cyborg said to BJPENN.com. “People use to say that Strikeforce didn’t have as good of fighters as the UFC. But then you saw all of us go to the UFC and become champions. Daniel Cormier, Tyron Woodley, Ronda Rousey, and even Amanda Nunes all fought for Scott Coker before the UFC matchmakers even knew who they were.
“There is no featherweight division in the UFC for females. Which is why even after Nunes proclaimed her next fight would be at 145 she is going back to bantamweight. And the featherweight title is going to go more than a year without being defended. Scott has again found the real talent before UFC matchmakers have discovered them,” she continued. “Which is why he was able to build a successful featherweight division. Go look at the world rankings for Featherweight, and they are all signed with Bellator. Scott is committed to Women’s MMA and building an actual division for his fighters to compete in.”
Although part of the reason for signing in Bellator was the 145-pound division, the other was reuniting with Coker. She says and it feels like a family reunion, and “the entire culture of the company feels different, much more welcoming, not nearly as intimidating for a female fighter.”
Cris Cyborg wants to prove women’s featherweight is one of the deepest divisions
The biggest reason, of course, was Bellator’s featherweight division. Cris Cyborg is excited to go to a promotion that actually wants to build up the division. For her, the goal is to prove that women’s featherweight is one of the deepest divisions in terms of talent.
“I spent four years working with the UFC trying to build the featherweight division only to sit and watch Bellator sign all of the top talent,” she explained. “I had one fight in 15 months before the bout with Felicia Spencer because all of the top girls had already been signed and were competing for Bellator. I’m excited to show the world that despite what some promoters have been saying the female 145-pounds division is actually one of the deepest in terms of talent in WMMA.”
Cyborg is ecstatic with her contract. She can partake in other combat sports like boxing and pro wrestling. It is also the most lucrative deal in women’s MMA history, according to Coker. While these are all great perks, Cyborg is focused on capturing the Bellator belt. That starts with fighting Julia Budd.
“I think Julia Budd will make for a great fight. She is well rounded and this will be another historic fight in my career,” she said.
If Cris Cyborg can beat Budd and become the news Bellator featherweight champion, she knows it will help cement her legacy.
“If I am able to win the Bellator Featherweight Championship I will be the only fighter in MMA with 4 world championships within the same weight class on my resume,” Cyborg concluded.