It’s now official, Cris Cyborg signs with Bellator! But are we surprised?
At the very moment that Dana White announced that he would not re-sign Cyborg to the UFC roster, everybody knew she would sign with Bellator. That belief will now materialize as Scott Coker announced her signing today on Twitter. I mean, we always knew she was a Scott Coker girl, right? Some of her biggest fights in career were fought under the Strikeforce umbrella from 2009 to 2011 and we always knew she got along well with the now Bellator boss.
Getting along well, that’s something that never happened between Cyborg and the UFC. For a long time, Dana White refused to sign her because she would (hear could) not drop to 135lbs to fight Ronda Rousey. And it’s not like White was kind-worded towards Cyborg too. He famously compared her to “Wanderlei Silva in a dress” and it seems like he could not have one good thing to say about the legendary women fighter.
Still, in 2016, he finally signed her to a UFC deal. Without the 145lbs division existing in the promotion, she had to cut to 140lbs for her first few fights. That’s exactly when we saw the horrible videos of her almost dying during her weight cuts and there was public pressure on the UFC to finally establish the Women’s Featherweight division. So they did it, but without Cyborg.
The initial Women’s Featherweight title match was fought on February 11, 2017 at UFC 208. Holly Holm and Germaine de Randamie, two 135ers, fought for the inaugural belt while nobody cared for the fight. Why? Because Women’s 145 does not exist without Cyborg and the fight just couldn’t be taken seriously without her. But why wasn’t she there? Because of an issue with USADA for which she got cleared but that made her unavailable for the scheduled date. But why not just pushing back the fight to when she’d be available? That’s the question that will never be answered.
In the end, Germaine de Randamie defeated Holly Holm by decision in a notoriously boring fight where the best blows were landed after the bell. de Randamie then immediately refused to fight Cyborg and even got stripped of her title. So at UFC 214, Cyborg finally got the chance to fight for the title against Tonya Evinger and she won by third round TKO. So now she would finally be celebrated by the UFC as one of their best champions right?
Not really, even though she headlined two PPV cards, she was never really given a strong supporting cast or a big promotional push. That’s until she fought Bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes at UFC 232. That fight got a big promotional push, but how couldn’t it? It was litteraly the biggest fight in the history of Women’s MMA. Cyborg lost in only 51 seconds to Amanda Nunes. A moment that made Dana White so proud that he made a poster out of it and hung it in his office along with a Mayweather/McGregor poster.
And then things got sour between Cyborg and the UFC once again as Dana White was telling everybody that wanted to listen that Cyborg did not want to fight Nunes again. Weirdly enough, Cyborg was saying the exact contrary everytime she spoke in the media. The thing is that Cyborg only had one fight left on her UFC deal and it was planned for UFC 240 against Felicia Spencer. She would then have to renegociate a deal with the UFC to make the Nunes rematch happen. Cyborg defeated Spencer by decision on the UFC 240 card while Joe Rogan undersold the sh*t out of her.
In the end, that’s probably where everything was always wrong between Cyborg and the UFC. Cyborg’s management felt like she was a bigger star than the UFC believed she was and they were never on the same terms financially. You all know how Dana White thinks, if he offers you a fight along with a purse that he seems fit for the occasion, and you turn down the offer because the purse is not good enough, that must mean you don’t want the fight, not that you just wan’t more money for a fight of bigger amplitude than normal.
Even before Cyborg signed to the UFC, when White was publicly shaming her, it wasn’t because he disliked her, it’s only because her management asked for too much money. That’s the bottom line, that’s how business works.
Days removed from UFC 240, a video published by Cyborg showed us a backstage confrontation between White and her. The problem is that the subtitles made it seem like White was saying that he did not always tell the truth, which is not what he said. He immediately announced that he would not negociate with Cyborg or her team for a new contract and that she was free to sign with another promotion.
So in the end, we should not be surprised that Cyborg signed with Bellator as soon as she had the chance. A place where fighters usually feel mora appreciated and more listened to. Scott Coker even said that she was getting an immediate title shot upon her arrival.
We’ll be looking forward to that Cris Cyborg vs Julia Budd fight, the only fight that I really wanted to see her in.