After dispatching Holly Holm at UFC 219, the MMA world is awaiting the next move of Cris “Cyborg” Justino. MMATorch’s Dylan Bowker conducted an interview with Cyborg, where she addresses her future and legacy within the sport.
Dylan: I’m just wondering when your next fight is looking to be here in 2018. Do you have maybe an ideal time or month? Anything like that?
Cris: No, I don’t have any schedule yet for when or where I’m going to fight. I have three fights left and probably going to be soon. I’m going to fight in 2018 three times.
Dylan: And are you looking to have your next fight against Megan Anderson?
Cris: I would like to fight somebody else at 145. You know, someone who has fought in 2017 at 145. I want to see the best in my division at 145. I think this is my history. I would like somebody in my division.
Dylan: No that’s cool because you were mentioning a couple other opponents like Cindy Dandois and Germaine de Randamie. So, it seems like you’re interested in quite a few different, potential fighters there.
Cris: Yeah, you know we have a lot of girls. I know our division is growing but if you think about it, the first belt ever in women’s MMA, I fought Gina Carano at 145. I think we deserve to have a division. Invest in the division. It’s easy for the girls to fight each other at 145. I have a belt at 145; I waited one year in UFC…….UFC one fight at 145, then fight each other, then they can come fight for the belt. I think we deserve it. Of course, I’m here to support all the women. I’m not here just to support myself. I don’t want to just beat the girls at 135. I want to be the real champion and fight the girls at 145.
Dylan: Yeah and I think it’s cool that your big goal seems to be to get a women’s featherweight division in the UFC. Would that be the big accomplishment in your career even beyond all the title you’ve won?
Cris: Yes, you know. I think I’m definitely making a difference. I’m not just UFC Champion. All the money, you be champion, and that’s it. I want people to remember me for the difference I made in the sport. You know I fought catch weights to introduce myself and then have my division 145. You know, I fight for it. I think the guys have a lot of weight classes and I think the women deserve to have other weight classes too. And men are getting paid good, I think women deserve to get paid too because it’s the same work. With training, we go there, we fight, and people love watching us fight.
Dylan: Yeah, for sure and I was wondering what were some of your big takeaways from fighting Holly Holm were. What did you learn from being in the cage for five rounds with such a decorated fighter?
Cris: I had an amazing feeling fighting Holly Holm. She’s a real fighter. I respected her a lot. I trained really hard for this fight. I train hard for all my fights, you know? But for her, she was a southpaw and I’ve never fought a southpaw before. I really trained hard. I went to Thailand. I trained every day…………………..I knew Holly was a fighter. I knew she wasn’t scared of a punch.
Man, she’s 17 times world champion in Boxing. I knew it was going to be a tough fight. She showed good experience…..She gave me a nice fight. It was an amazing fight. She gave me five rounds. And I show a little bit about my game. People see 30 percent. I have a lot of things that I can show. UFC girls are making me show a little bit more. As I challenge myself all the time in the cage, people are going to see more things about Cyborg.
Dylan: Yeah and it was a super interesting fight that I think a lot of people really enjoyed, myself included. But I’m also wondering what your thoughts are on it being one of the biggest pay per views of 2017. It was in the top three most bought pay per views. So how does it feel to have so many fans wanting to check out your fight?
Cris: You know I’m really happy about I but I think we can do better. I think me and Holly Holm is the biggest fight at 145 because Holly’s the girl that beat Ronda Rousey. I think this fight if we had more time before for a media tour and had more championship fights on the card, I think it would probably make better numbers but I’m really happy. It was just the 8 week fight camp. But for sure next fight we’ll keep going and going and get better numbers each time.
Dylan: No, I think that’s a good way to look at it. You’re always looking to improve eh?
Cris: Uh again, sorry?
Dylan: I just find it interesting that you’re always looking to improve even with people buying your fights.
Cris: Yes, yes
Dylan: So, we’re talking about the success of the Holly Holm fight there also said you wanted to bring in other women’s featherweight fighters. You’re not particularly interested in fighting Amanda Nunes now but would you be interested in fighting her on a December 30th, 2018 card so you could get the full big fight feel to it?
Cris: If they bring somebody 145 to fight…..The girls deserve to fight for the belt. Can be any time. I would love that for my next fight. Because I fought all these girls at 135 and I did a lot of fights at 140 too………If you think about it, ok, I fight Holly Holm. She’s at 145 because she fought Ronda but she’s coming in with three losses to fight for the belt at 145. No real hierarchy at 145. I would like to fight somebody within the hierarchy at 145lbs that I think deserves that. I was thinking about Megan Anderson because she was the first number one contender to hold the belt in Invicta, the belt I vacated, and I think she deserve it. I have a lot of other girls too that can have the opportunity.
Dylan: Yeah, I think that’s really cool. I like that you want to grow women’s MMA. Not even just in your weight class but as a whole. I mean I really see Gabi Garcia try to do that as well with heavyweight and light heavyweight women’s MMA fighters. Do you think nowadays there’s a lot more opportunities for women in fighting than ever before?
Cris: Ronda opened doors for a lot of girls. I think she has made a lot of success with fighting in UFC and helping grow more and more women’s MMA. I think it just has to grow more. Open more divisions, more opportunities, and we’re going to do better and better. Just to give opportunities for us and then we’re doing great.
Dylan: That’s great to hear. I was also interested in some boxing endeavors you could be getting into there. I heard you got a boxing license. Would we maybe see you in a pro boxing contest at some point in 2018?
Cris: I don’t think it would be in 2018 because I have three fights in MMA but maybe. I really like to challenge myself and I love boxing. If I have the opportunity to fight boxing, I will. Of course boxing contracts are really different than MMA contracts. If I have the opportunity I would like to finish my career by at least taking one boxing fight. This is one of my dreams.
Dylan: Would you want to get on a card with Claressa Shields if you were to go into the boxing realm there?
Cris: It would be amazing, an honor to fight on the same card as Claressa Shields. She’s amazing and she’s doing a lot for the sport……….As women, we all fight for the same thing. Yeah, I think it would be very blessed to have this opportunity.
Dylan: Yeah and it must be great to have such a decorated sparring partner. I’m sure you’ve learned a lot sparring with a multi time Olympic medalist.
Cris: Yeah you learn a lot. She’s trained in boxing for a long time, started very young……..She has a lot of experience. She has a lot of things to teach me. I really appreciate when we train together because she teaches me a lot of good things to improve my game. It’s a good experience.
Dylan: Right on that sounds cool. And I’m also a pro wrestling fan so I also thought it was curious to see you calling out Becky Lynch……Is one of your goals to wrestle Becky Lynch at some point in the next couple years? Have there been any serious talks with the company about an appearance?
Cris: Vince contacted us. I went one time to see WWE. I did some private training too with girls going into WWE. If I have the opportunity, for sure. I think it’s great for the exposure. You can show your job and people will know who I am from MMA. I think it’s going to help each other. It’s cool.
Dylan: So, won’t be seeing you in the Royal Rumble eh?
Cris: There’s a lot of women there who can make it. Why not? I don’t know too much but I will train
Dylan: Yeah, for sure. I notice a lot of MMA observes are calling you the greatest of all time……What are your thoughts on people calling you the greatest of all time?
Cris: It makes me happy. It motivates me to train more and more. To be the champion is hard but to be the champion of all time is the hardest. You need to train hard…..have to be humble and learn every day. Because all the girls are watching and want to beat you and take your place. You have to keep training and keep learning. If you see my first fight and see my last fight, you see how that’s going. I try to improve my training, believe in my team, and fight the best guys……..I think this motivates me to keep doing what I’m doing. I’m doing good things in a good way.
Listen to the full interview here.
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