Cris Cyborg Saga
August 15, 2009 – the date that the first real Women’s MMA Super Fight happened. Gina Carano was scheduled to fight Cris Cyborg for the Strikeforce Women’s Featherweight Championship. Gina Carano, daughter of a former Dallas Cowboys quarterback, was the undefeated future star of Women’s Combat Sports. She was also Crush on the show American Gladiators and was featured on “Maxim’s Hot 100” list. The women on the other side of the cage was lesser-known Cris Cyborg. She lacked the popularity of Carano, but most experts understood how good of a fighter Cyborg was. On that night, Cyborg dominated an overwhelmed Carano. She scored an impressive first round stoppage with her aggressive fan friendly style. After this fight, Cyborg should’ve taken Carano’s stardom, but instead, Carano’s fame got the attention of Hollywood earning her movie roles, while Cyborg continued to fight.
Cyborg Takes A Back Seat
Despite Cyborg’s successful fighting career, she watched another female fighter rise to fame. Ronda Rousey became a household name, having won the Strikeforce Bantamweight Championship and headlining multiple events, while the only event Cyborg headlined before Stirkeforce was purchased by the UFC was her fight against Carano. While Rousey was the one getting a PR push from promoters, the UFC purchased Strikeforce and decided to build a women’s MMA roster around Rousey and started a 135 Division. She immediately became the UFC’s It Girl, but Cyborg would go on to fight in the lesser know organization, Invicta.
In 2014, the UFC announced that they were adding another division, which would’ve been Cyborg’s final shot to fight in the UFC and be recognized as the best WMMA fighter in the world. To her disappointment, the UFC started a 115-pound women’s division instead, which the 145-pound fighter had no chance of competing in. She watched the UFC build that division around other fan favorites like Paige Van Zant and Rose Namajunas.
Rise to #1
Since Rousey was dominating her division and needed a big challenge, the UFC finally decided to give Cyborg her chance in the UFC, but the fight was not on Cyborg’s terms. She was forced to fight at 140 pounds giving her a huge disadvantage. They wanted her to have a hard weight cut. Cyborg won her first UFC fight, but the super fight between Cyborg and Rousey fell through since Rousey lost her title belt. With a Rousey loss, Cyborg was finally seen as the best WMMA fighter.
In 2017, the UFC finally gave Cyborg a title fight. It took her 8 years after the Carano fight to finally earn her shot at winning the UFC belt and become the face of WMMA. Later in the year, she headlined a PPV fight winning against Holly Holm, the fighter who beat Rousey. At last, the UFC has their dominant female star and continues to properly promote Cyborg. She has already headlined a PPV event in 2018 and the UFC announced they will feature a 145lb women division in their next reality show, “The Ultimate Fighter” to build a division around her. It took longer than it should’ve, but the real queen of WMMA is finally in her throne.