Cris Cyborg will defend the UFC featherweight championship against Holly Holm at UFC 219, but she feels that a win on Dec. 30 will also mean that she has beaten Ronda Rousey.
Rousey was knocked out by Holm back in 2015. At that time, a superfight between “Rowdy” and Cyborg was one of the biggest fights the UFC could put on. Years have passed since, and Rousey is likely never coming back to the Octagon, but Cyborg feels that a win over “The Preacher’s Daughter” validates the Rousey debate with simple MMA math.
“I think each fight is a challenge for me,” Cyborg said on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “I think when I fight with Holly and beat Holly, I’m gonna beat Ronda at the same time. Everybody that follows my career knows how much I did for this fight to happen, and didn’t happen.
“I think if I beat Holly I’m gonna beat Ronda the same day. I feel like that because Holly fought Ronda, and when this fight happened, Dana (White) said if Ronda beat Holly, (her) next fight would be Cyborg, and then Holly stopped Ronda before. Just people think about, simple.”
Cyborg still won’t call herself the greatest female fighter of all-time with a win over Holm — she leaves that conversation for MMA fans. And in order to prepare for such a dangerous striker, perhaps her toughest opponent so far in MMA, the featherweight queen has trained with boxing veteran Mia St. John, who fought Holm in the squared circle in 2005.
Holm is coming off a vicious knockout win over Bethe Correia in Singapore, while Cyborg has beaten Leslie Smith, Lina Lansberg and Tonya Evinger so far under the UFC banner. Asked if Holm still is the same fighter that finished Rousey, Cyborg says the former bantamweight champion will feel the power of her hands when they meet in Las Vegas.
“I think it’s gonna be great fight,” Cyborg said, “but I think she had so much boxing fights, I think she had a lot of punches, and one thing when I fight her, she will feel the difference with my punch. She punched a lot of girls at 135 and I have the time to recover my body after (fighting at) 140, getting my punch again. I think it’s a great fight.”
Cyborg re-signed with the UFC ahead of the Dec. 30 event, and now has a 15-month, four-fight deal with the company. The Brazilian will become a free agent by March 2019 even if she competes only once before her deal expires, but she is “really happy” with her new deal.
“I think we just put a little bit more championship clause, but I’m really happy,” she said. “I think I feel good and the UFC started to treat me nice, and I think we’re growing together. If we work together, it’s gonna be blessed, it’s gonna be nice. This is the opportunity to make nice fights and people enjoy my fights, enjoy my career.”
After years of a troubling relationship with UFC president Dana White, Cyborg says it feels good to work with the company now.
“It’s never too late,” Cyborg said. “There are new owners now and they really want to work with me, you know? That’s fine. But in the beginning I wasn’t really happy with it.”