Women’s featherweight queen Cris Cyborg has a reputation as an overwhelming power-puncher. And it’s one that’s well-founded, with 18 of her 20 career wins having come via KO or TKO — Holly Holm being the only woman to go the distance with Cyborg since a 2005 win over Vanessa Porto.
However, it’s also a reputation that has overshadowed her other qualities as an elite talent in MMA. While she started as something of a wild brawler, Cyborg has become much more of a patient, technical striker with a well-schooled pressure game. She also has a strong grappling game, and a dominating top game. Fighters who look to the mat against Cyborg for safety often don’t get the chance to get back to their feet. But, one of the most notable – and perhaps most overlooked – aspects of her game is her conditioning.
Even into her UFC career there were fans who felt that the key to beating Cyborg was to take her deep into fights, let her tire herself out throwing all that power. In her 5-round bout against Holly Holm, Cyborg at least doubled Holm’s strikes landed in every single round, with the fifth and final round being her most active.
That kind of performance gives some extra weight to Valentina Shevchenko’s take on the upcoming superfight between bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes and Cyborg, and why she feels the featherweight champion will walk away with yet another victory.
“Cris has an advantage in her endurance – a very huge advantage,” Shevchenko said in a recent MMAjunkie Radio interview. “Because she’s training like a fanatic. And most important, she’s not tiring.
“In the morning, she runs marathons, and after marathons, she comes to training and does her work hitting pads and sparring. She doesn’t get tired. She has the power to move forward. So in this fight, I will support Cris.”
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Nunes, on the other hand, has had some well documented past struggles with her endurance. And while she’s done well to curtail them in recent 5-round fights with Shevchenko and Raquel Pennington, competing with a fighter as powerful as Cyborg could bring those issues right back into the forefront.
UFC 232 takes place on December 29th in Las Vegas, NV at the T-Mobile Arena. The event will be headlined by the light heavyweight title fight rematch between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustfasson. Cyborg vs. Nunes is planned for the co-main event. Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for more news, notes, and updates as the card approaches.