Cris Cyborg Knocks Out Sinead Kavanagh to Retain Bellator’s Women’s Featherweight Title

Less than two minutes… That’s the time it took Cris Cyborg to roll past her latest opponent.

The 36-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist, Bellator’s women’s featherweight champion, was as dominant as ever in defending her belt for the third time, knocking out Sinead Kavanagh in the first round of the Bellator 271 main event on Friday night in Hollywood, Florida.

Cris "Cyborg" Justino

This fight looked like most of the fights during Cyborg’s 16-year pro career. She came out blitzing Kavanagh, trapping her against the cage and unleashing punches that within the first minute had bloodied her face.

Kavanagh (7-5), a 35-year-old from Ireland who trains in the same SBG Dublin gym as Conor McGregor, did manage to get her back off the cage and, relying on her background as an amateur boxer, she began trading punches with Cyborg, which wasn’t the best idea.

A right hand wobbled the challenger and another right sent her crashing to the canvas, flat on her back. Referee Jason Herzog immediately jumped in to wave off the fight as a knockout at 1 minute, 32 seconds of Round 1.

For Cyborg (25-2, 1 NC), a former 145-pound champion in the UFC, Strikeforce and Invicta FC promotions, it was her fifth straight win and the 11th first-round knockout of her career.

Cyborg, who lives and trains in Southern California, has just one loss in her past 27 fights, a run of success that extends back to her pro MMA debut in 2005.

In an interview afterward inside the cage, Cyborg, who was a 25-1 betting favorite, smiled as she apologized to her coaches.

“I’m sorry, my team,” she said. “I didn’t do anything that we planned.”

Then Cyborg put this virtuosic performance behind her and shifted her focus to her next title defense. She mentioned that she had called for a fight with former UFC title challenger Cat Zingano, who has won two fights since signing with Bellator two years ago.

“But I leave it to Scott Coker,” Cyborg said, referring to the Bellator president. “I don’t choose fights.”

However, a fight might end up choosing her. Cyborg was reminded that among those in the crowd at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino was two-time PFL lightweight champion Kayla Harrison, who is a free agent and has been checking out her options. She was at UFC 268 last Saturday. On Friday night, she was at Bellator 271.

“Kayla, thanks for coming to the fights. I really appreciate you’re here,” Cyborg said to Harrison, a 2012 and 2016 Olympic gold medalist in judo. “I’m here. If you want to fight me one day, it’s gonna be a great fight.”

Cris Cyborg to Defend Bellator Featherweight Title Against Sinead Kavanagh

Cris Cyborg is going on the defensive…

The 36-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist, one of Bellator’s top stars, will defend her belt next month.

Cris CyborgBellator president Scott Coker announced on The MMA Hour that Cyborg will defend her women’s featherweight title against Sinead Kavanagh on November 12 in Hollywood, Florida.

Cyborg (24-2, 1 NC) is one of the greatest women’s fighters in MMA history.

The Brazil native, who fights out of California, is 3-0 in Bellator, beating Julia Budd for the women’s featherweight title in January 2020.

Cyborg has lost just once since her pro debut in 2005, to UFC double champion Amanda Nunes.

Cyborg is the only MMA fighter to win titles in four major promotions: UFC, Strikeforce, Bellator and Invicta FC.

Kavanagh (7-4) has won two in a row. The 35-year-old Ireland native, who trains out of SBG Ireland (Conor McGregor’s team in Dublin), is coming off a unanimous decision win over Katharina Lehner in October 2020.

Cris Cyborg Defeats Leslie Smith by TKO to Defend Bellator Women’s Featherweight Title

Cris Cyborg is keepin’ her title..

The 35-year-old Brazilian mixed martial, whose real name is Cristiane Justino Venâncio,

Cris Cyborg 

defended her Bellator women’s featherweight title, beating Leslie Smith by TKO at 4 minutes, 51 seconds of the fifth round in the main event of Bellator 259 on Friday night at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut.

It was a rematch of a 2016 bout that Cyborg finished via TKO in just 1:21.

Known for her violent, quick finishes, Cyborg previously had been deeper than the third round only three times in her career. Smith is only the second fighter to take Cyborg into the fifth round, joining former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm.

ESPN has Cyborg ranked No. 3 on its women’s MMA pound-for-pound list. Her only loss since her pro debut in 2005 came against Amanda Nunes, the UFC women’s bantamweight and featherweight champion.

In their first fight at UFC 198 five years ago, Smith disputed the stoppage as being too early. She got some measure of vindication Saturday night, but the outcome wasn’t really ever in doubt.

Cyborg dominated every round, landing big combinations and several impactful suplexes that sent Smith hard to the mat. Cyborg dropped Smith in four out of five rounds with punches. Many of Cyborg’s former opponents have folded after feeling her power, but Smith didn’t until the closing seconds.

“I knew she’s tough,” Cyborg said in her postfight interview. “I knew. I’ve met her before. I know her. I really respect her. She’s a real fighter.” With time expiring in the fifth round, Cyborg landed a crushing right hand that dropped Smith. She then followed up with big punches on the ground. Smith turned over and covered up, but Cyborg continued the onslaught, and referee Dan Miragliotta stepped in and waved it off.

Afterward, Cyborg called out former UFC title challenger Cat Zingano for her next title defense. Zingano is 2-0 in Bellator and coming off a finish last month.

Cyborg (24-2, 1 NC) picked up her second Bellator title defense Saturday night. The Brazil native, who trains out of Southern California, has won four straight overall. She has 19 career wins via KO/TKO in 24 victories. Cyborg is the only fighter in MMA history to win titles in four major promotions: UFC, Bellator, Strikeforce and Invicta FC.

Amanda Nunes’ UFC Featherweight Title Fight Against Megan Anderson Rebooked for March

Amanda Nunes is marching forward…

A featherweight title fight between the 32-year-old Brazilian professional mixed martial artist, a two-weight champion, and Megan Anderson has been rebooked for March 6, according to UFC officials.

Amanda Nunes

The 145-pound championship fight was originally scheduled to take place at UFC 256 on December 12, however Nunes was forced to withdraw because of health issues. The UFC has not formally announced a name or location for the March 6 card, however it’s expected to be a UFC 259 pay-per-view event.

Originally from Brazil now fighting out of Florida, Nunes (20-4) is the No. 1 pound-for-pound female fighter in the world according to ESPN. This will mark the second consecutive defense of her featherweight title. She also holds the UFC’s 135-pound bantamweight championship, which she last defended against Germaine de Randamie in December 2019.

 

Anderson (10-4) is a former Invicta FC featherweight champion, with a 3-2 record in the UFC. She has finished both of her last two fights in the first round, and has recorded finishes in all but one of her pro wins.

Amanda Ribas in Talks to Fight Michelle Waterson in UFC 257 Bout

Amanda Ribas is thisclose to returning to the Octagon…

The UFC is close to finalizing a strawweight bout between the 27-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist and Michelle Waterson for UFC 257, according to multiple sources.

Amanda Ribas

The UFC 257 pay-per-view event is the first on the company’s 2021 schedule. The promotion hasn’t announced a location for the event or a main event, although UFC president Dana White has said the event is earmarked for Conor McGregor‘s return to the Octagon against Dustin Poirier.

Ribas (10-1) is one of the most promising prospects in the division. She is undefeated since signing with the UFC last year, and has taken out the likes of Emily WhitmireMackenzie DernRanda Markos and Paige VanZant. She finished VanZant with a first-round armbar at UFC 251 in July.

Waterson (18-8) is one of the most established names of the strawweight division, with a 6-4 record in the UFC dating back to 2015. The former Invicta FC champion was knocking on the door of title contention in 2019 before she suffered back-to-back decision losses to former champions Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Carla Esparza. Fighting out of Jackson Wink MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Waterson has since rebounded from the two-fight skid with a win over Angela Hill.

Cris Cyborg Makes History with Bellator Win Over Julia Budd

Cris Cyborg has earned her place in the mixed martial arts history books…

The 34-year-old Brazilian-American mixed martial artist, whose real name is Cristiane Justino, made her Bellator debut at The Forum in Inglewood, California, in grand fashion.

Cris Cyborg

Cris Cyborg (22-2 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) scored a fourth-round TKO of Julia Budd to claim the women’s featherweight belt, to complete a grand slam and enhance her legacy in the sport.

The victory saw her win a championship with her fourth MMAorganization, having also won titles with the UFCInvicta FC, and Strikeforce.

In the early rounds of  Saturday’s fight, Cris Cyborg showed little respect to her opponent, throwing relentless strikes to Budd’s face and body.

When victory came in the fourth, Cris Cyborg dropped to the canvas, appearing to celebrate the win in disbelief having ended Budd’s unbeaten run of 2,998 days.

Cris Cyborg Signs with Bellator MMA 

Cristiane Justino is taking her fight elsewhere…

The 34-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist, better known as Cris Cyborg, has signed with Bellator MMA after a three-year run with the Ultimate Fighting Championship ( UFC).

Cris Cyborg

One of the best women’s fighters in the history of the sport is now under a multiyear, multi-bout contract with Bellator, promotion president Scott Coker announced via Twitter. Coker wrote that it was the biggest contract ever given to a women’s MMA fighter.

Cyborg accompanied Bellator’s announcement with a video message to her fans on Facebook.

“My goal is to become the only female fighter to hold four different major titles in the same division,” said Cyborg, who has already held the women’s featherweight title in the UFC, Strikeforce and Invicta FC.

The final fight on Cyborg’s UFC contract came against Felicia Spencer at UFC 240 in July, a bout Cyborg won via unanimous decision. 

The fighter and UFC president Dana Whitehave had a long history of butting heads, and White said in the aftermath of that bout the UFC was out of the Cyborg business. The UFC waived its 90-day exclusive negotiating window with the Brazilian knockout artist, making her a free agent.

Cyborg, who is No. 3 pound-for-pound among women in ESPN‘s MMA rankings, won the UFC women’s featherweight title by beating Tonya Evinger by third-round TKO at UFC 214 in July 2017. She dropped the belt to Amanda Nunes, also the UFC’s women’s bantamweight champ, at UFC 232 last December via first-round knockout. That defeat was Cyborg’s first in 13 years, since her pro MMA debut in 2005.

From 2005 until 2018, Cyborg was the most dominating and fearsome force in women’s mixed martial arts. Justino went undefeated and won 17 of 20 victories by finish. Cyborg has beaten the likes of Holly HolmMarloes Coenen and Gina Carano. Historically, she has also been one of the best-known women’s MMA fighters in the world, drawing solid numbers on television and pay-per-view.

“I have worked with countless athletes over my 30-plus years of promoting combat sports, but there is no one quite like Cyborg,” said Coker, who promoted Justino with Strikeforce. “Her ability to excite the crowd from the moment she makes her walk to the cage is special, and having had the pleasure of promoting several of her fights in the past, I am looking forward to the opportunity of promoting her once again. Cyborg is the most dominant female fighter in the history of the sport and she will be a perfect fit here at Bellator, where champion Julia Budd and the other women that make up best female featherweight division in the world have eagerly awaited her arrival.”

Cyborg was brought into the UFC in 2016 at a catchweight of 140 pounds. She had competed previously at 145 pounds, a more natural weight. The idea at the time was to set up a fight between Cyborg and Ronda Rousey, but it never materialized. Cyborg was too big to get down to Rousey’s 135-pound weight class and Rousey departed the UFC later in 2016.

Cyborg and the UFC had an embattled relationship even before Cyborg was under contract. In 2014, White infamously made fun of Cyborg for her appearance at an MMA awards show, saying she looked like male fighter Wanderlei Silva in a dress. Cyborg took it as White saying she looked like a man; White has said that he was making a comment on Cyborg’s past history with performance-enhancing drugs. Cyborg tested positive for a steroid and was stripped of her Strikeforce title in 2011.

After Nunes beat Cyborg last December, White repeatedly said Cyborg didn’t want a rematch, which Cyborg vehemently denied. Meanwhile, Cyborg said she felt the UFC never truly built out a women’s featherweight division in which she could compete, which was a valid criticism.

On Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show in July, Cyborg said she wanted a public apology from White as a condition of her re-signing with the UFC.

“Of course, he has to apologize,” Justino said. “I think he has family, he has kids. … I don’t know if he has a heart, but I think one thing he’s doing is not just touching me, because he doesn’t like me. He’s touching the people around me, he’s touching my family. It’s not right.”

The rocky relationship came to an end in earnest after UFC 240 when Cyborg’s team posted a doctored video online that inaccurately quoted White in subtitles while talking to Cyborg backstage in Edmonton, Alberta. Cyborg apologized on social media, but White said in an interview on the UFC’s YouTube channel that the promotion was done with Cyborg.

“I’m going to release her from her contract and I will not match any offers [she receives],” White said. “She is free and clear to go to Bellator or any of these other promotions and fight these easy fights she wants. Done. Done deal. I will literally, today, have my lawyer draft a letter to [Justino’s team saying] that she is free and clear.”

In the Bellator release announcing her signing, it makes note of the promotion’s healthy women’s featherweight division, including Budd, who has won 11 straight.

Justino to Make UFC Debut Against Leslie Smith at UFC 198

Cris “Cyborg” Justino is finally hitting the UFC stage…

The 30-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist and the former Strikeforce Women‘s Featherweight Champion will make her long-awaited UFC debut on May 14 in her hometown of Curitiba, Brazil.

Cris "Cyborg" Justino

Long considered one of the top female fighters in the world, Justino will fight Leslie Smith at UFC 198 at Arena da Baixada, according to UFC officials. The bout will take place at 140 pounds.

“It’s a dream come true for Cris, not only to fight in front of her home crowd but to step into the Octagon. We’re just happy the UFC is giving her this opportunity,” Justino’s manager, George Prajin, said. “We’re not looking past this fight. One month ago, we thought it would be a Hail Mary to get into the UFC. Now we have this opportunity. They’re the boss. Whatever they want moving forward is what’s next for her.”

Justino (15-1) is the 145-pound champion in all-female promotion Invicta FC. In early 2015, Justino signed a contract extension with Invicta that allowed her to appear in UFC. Invicta events air on UFC Fight Pass, UFC’s digital subscription service.

Fighting out of southern California, Justino has not suffered a loss since her professional debut in May 2005. She has recorded knockouts in 13 of her professional victories, including three consecutive first-round finishes.

A former Strikeforce featherweight champion, Justino had danced around a potential megafight against former UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey for years. UFC publicly stated numerous times that that fight would have to take place at 135 pounds, UFC’s largest weight class for female fighters.

Circumstances changed in November, when Rousey suffered a second-round knockout loss to Holly Holm. Shortly after that result, Justino said she was done trying to cut to 135 pounds and would accept a UFC bout only at a 140-pound catchweight. Several notable UFC bantamweights have said they would meet Justino at a catchweight, including Holm and current champion Miesha Tate.

Smith (8-6-1) is 2-2 in UFC. The seven-year veteran is coming off a decision win against Rin Nakai earlier this month in Brisbane, Australia.