Cris Cyborg: the UFC’s Wasted Superstar?

By Dazzler

Cris Cyborg’s War of Words With the UFC Continues… And it Becomes Increasingly Unlikely That She’ll Fight for the Promotion Again… Is She the UFC’s Biggest Waste of Star Potential?

The contrast between Cris Cyborg and Ronda Rousey is remarkable. They’re two of the most dominant female fighters in the history of the UFC. Both of them are strong pay-per-view draws and had massive cult followings – Cyborg has a million followers on Instagram. That’s where the similarities end.

While many criticise Rousey now, it’s easy to forget that she was a force of nature when she arrived on the scene from Strikeforce. Women’s MMA exists in the UFC because of her. They created the bantamweight division around her and you would have expected the promotion to do the same with the featherweight division around Cyborg.

No. Instead there has been an outrageous war of words between the Brazilian and the UFC President Dana White. She’s been insulted, bullied and her words distorted. You get the feeling that they only signed her so that nobody else would. It’s one of the strangest tales in the recent history of MMA.

Apology

Cyborg’s fight against Amanda Nunes was the biggest match-up in the history of women’s MMA. Let’s make no mistake here: Justino is capable of beating the Lioness. She knows this and that’s why she’s desperate to get the chance to avenge her loss. But the UFC is against her, as Joe Rogan’s bizarre narrative the other night showed. The long-serving commentator insisted she was tired and fading throughout the fight, despite dominating for five rounds against a brave Felicia Spencer. She told Ariel Helwani that she wants a public apology from both men. She said:

“Of course he (White) has to apologize. He has family, he has kids and if he wants to be honest, he’s supposed to do this. I don’t know if he has a heart, but what he’s doing is not just touching me, if he doesn’t like me. He’s touching people around me, my family. It’s not right. He always wants to avoid his family with things he does, but when he does this it affects my family.

“Public. It’s easy to say it in private like Joe Rogan did when there were no cameras. No, you want to talk about me, how I have a dick, you have to talk in public. You’re not a man, to me you’re not a man. If Joe Rogan a man, he will say I am sorry in public, not in my ear.”

Cris Cyborg V Holly Holm. Mandatory credit: Gary A. Vasquez – USA TODAY Sports.

Popular

Cyborg has endured a lot throughout her career. She’s been called the ‘female Wanderlai’ by White, which is pretty outrageous. While she might not be the type of fighter they want to promote – think someone conventionally attractive like Michelle Waterson or Paige VanZant – Cyborg has always been popular amongst MMA fans.

The reason for this is because she’s good at what she does. It’s been proven that if a female sports star is good enough at what they do then they’ll get viewers. Katie Taylor has done it in boxing, the US women’s soccer team, Serena Williams in tennis, and Cyborg has definitely done it in MMA.

Even without a proper division around her – there are no ranked fighters in the division other than the champion Nunes – she’s still pulled in strong pay-per-view numbers. Cyborg physically dominates and brutalizes other women. Fans want to watch that. In this age of MeToo, Cyborg should and could be a mainstream superstar. She’s friends with Halle Berry for crying out loud and the UFC still wouldn’t promote her properly.

Cris Cyborg. Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports.

Moving On

Now despite openly saying that she wants to rematch against Holly Holm, it’s looking likely that she’s going to move on to other things. Scott Coker has openly been courting her. He was present at UFC 240 and posted to Instagram praising her. Bellator actually has a functioning division so that could appeal to her.

However, you do feel that if she’s to stay in MMA she needs to get that win back against Amanda Nunes. That makes a move to boxing more probable. She’s been linked to a match-up with Cecilia Braekhus in the past and more recently against Nicola Adams. That’s where the money is and a fresh challenge.

The UFC doesn’t deserve her.