DETROIT, Mich. — A fight with Ronda Rousey was once a dream for Cris Cyborg, but the UFC women’s featherweight champ believes her rival now needs to do rebuild her reputation if that dream match were to ever become a reality, given the divergent paths they’ve taken.
In the past two years, Rousey has seemingly abandoned the MMA world after suffering back-to-back knockout losses, while Cyborg capped off a 12-year unbeaten stretch with a dominant TKO win over Tonya Evinger in July that finally put a UFC belt in her trophy case. Her first defense will be against former bantamweight champion Holly Holm at UFC 219 on Dec. 30.
Cyborg was in attendance at media day for UFC 218 on Wednesday and she expressed skepticism when it was mentioned that Ronda Rousey’s coach Edmond Tarverdyan is still boasting that Rousey could still be a worthy challenge for her.
“I think Ronda has to do more fights,” Cyborg said. “I think her coach is crazy. She should get back to training if she’d like to fight and then I think she’s supposed to be making more fights. [Maybe before Rousey lost,] we could make this fight. I don’t want to fight someone — she’s already lost two times, why am I going to beat someone already down? She can make more fights and then maybe we can make this fight for our fans.”
In terms of sheer star power, it’s hard to imagine a more appealing fight than Cyborg vs. Rousey, even if the latter is far from the peak of her abilities. There was a time when Rousey was considered to be an unstoppable force much like Cyborg is now, having won her first 12 professional fights in spectacular fashion, but there was still much demand for her to go up in weight to face Cyborg.
The featherweight champ stopped short of saying that Rousey wasn’t on her level, though she insisted that putting the fight together now wouldn’t be nearly as intriguing as it once could have been.
“No, not above, but I think with more fights she’s going to (bring back the invincible Ronda Rousey), who nobody was going to beat her,” Cyborg said. “Not now, I think it’s better you fight someone when they’re good and they want to fight.”
For now, Cyborg will have to settle for Holm, the fighter who first erased Rousey’s aura of invincibility with a head-kick knockout back in November 2015. The win boosted Holm’s name into the MMA stratosphere, and while her subsequent appearances have failed to capitalize on that momentous finish, Cyborg thinks beating the woman who dethroned Rousey is almost as good as beating Rousey herself.
“I know everybody would like to watch me and Ronda [but now it’s better], I’m going to fight someone who beat her,” Cyborg said. “And let’s see what’s going to happen Dec. 30, but I’m very excited. Ronda didn’t give this fight to us, Holly gave it now, and after I beat Holly [it will be like beating] Ronda the same night.”