Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino has finally been brought into the UFC, and she’ll make her debut at UFC 198 in Brazil in a 140 lb. catchweight fight against Leslie Smith.
The UFC officially confirmed the matchup for the May 14 card in Curitiba on Monday.
Cyborg, the 15-1 current Invicta FC Featherweight Champion, had been trying to get a fight against Ronda Rousey for years, but the UFC and Rousey refused unless Cyborg could make bantamweight. That never came about, and the fight came off the table when Rousey was stopped by Holly Holm last November. Cyborg is unbeaten in almost 11 years, with her sole loss coming in her May ’05 MMA debut.
Smith is 2-2 in four appearances in the UFC thus far, and makes a fairly quick turnaround after her UFC Fight Night 85 win over Rin Nakai nine days ago. An Invicta vet herself, Smith went 3-2-1 under that banner prior to her UFC run.
UFC 198 airs live on pay-per-view from the 40,000 seat Arena de Baixada, headlined by the UFC Heavyweight Championship fight between Fabricio Werdum and Stipe Miocic.
Penick’s Analysis: It’s well past the time she should have been brought in, and they’re finally just booking her on her own without the Rousey fight being an issue. Rousey’s refusal to take a catchweight was understandable for much of the run, but it’s a missed opportunity now that Rousey lost to Holm. Cyborg-Smith works well enough, Smith’s an extremely tough fighter who can take and give punishment, but it’s more than likely going to be a showcase fight for Cyborg.
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