Fight for a vacant title? Cyborg sure doesn’t see it that way.
With UFC 214 on the horizon, much of the attention is focused on the hotly-anticipated main event rematch between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones. But while the light heavyweight title is what most will presumably be attending and tuning in for, another great fight on the card is getting less fanfare.
After some quick shuffling following Germaine de Randamie being stripped of the featherweight title, Cristiane Justino was scheduled to fight the woman that indirectly inherited her title – Invicta featherweight champion Megan Anderson. Anderson was then unable to compete, leading to Invicta bantamweight champion Tonya Evinger to step up in her place.
Throughout this entire period, Cyborg has been open to competing against any and all of the fighters she’s had put in front of her. And in a recent chat with Brazilian journalists, she addressed her mindset coming into this fight for the vacant belt (courtesy of Fernanda Prates of MMAJunkie):
“Actually, the way I see it, this fight to me is a title defense,” Justino said during an online chat with Brazilian reporters. “I didn’t lose my belt. I left it vacant. The way I see it, it will be a title defense. In the eyes of some people, it’s more valuable than the belt I already carried. But, for me, it’s yet another defense.
It is worth noting that Justino had five bouts in Invicta, winning the inaugural title after defeating Dutch pioneer Marloes Coenen at Invicta FC 6 in July of 2013. However, she was stripped of her Strikeforce title after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs after defeating Hiroko Yamanaka at Strikeforce: Melendez vs Masvidal.
Cyborg also shared some thoughts about the woman that most expected her to initially fight, UFC inaugural and former featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie:
“Maybe she wanted to go back to her division, get the 135-pound belt, be the first one to get the two belts,” Justino said. “She acted in bad faith. She knew she’d have to fight me to defend the belt.
“You see it happening a lot in MMA over the past two or three years, a lot of people who are right there to fight for the belt are being held back. I don’t think that’s fair. I think if you’re the champ, you need to face whomever’s prepared to fight for the belt.”
Justino may not be fighting De Randamie any time soon, but will still have her hands full with Evinger at UFC 214. An eventual match with Megan Anderson could also be in her near future, as it’s something that both have been clamoring for for some time.
UFC 214 takes place July 29th at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA. The card will be headlined by another title fight in Jon Jones vs Daniel Cormier and welterweight champion Tyron Woodley taking on Demian Maia.