The way that Cris “Cyborg” Justino fights, it’s surprising that you most likely have never seen her fight a round, or even heard of her. According to Cyborg, that’s just what the UFC wants.
Speaking to Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Snowden, the 32-year-old Brazilian–who just became the company’s Featherweight Champion after a TKO victory over Tonya Evinger at UFC 214–claims that MMA’s biggest promoter has had an agenda since discovering its former “First Lady,” Ronda Rousey, who fits the “prototypical, cookie-cutter” American hero that UFC was desperate for to change their women’s scene.
“They have so much power that they try to change the history,” Cyborg says. “Ronda didn’t make women’s MMA. Who brought women’s MMA to the main event on TV? I did. And Gina Carano. Ronda, she was from the Olympics. She had blonde hair. She could be an idol; an American idol. They thought, ‘We can make money with this girl.’ I was there a long time already. If I was American, they would have opened a division years ago.”
Plainly put, Cyborg believes her being Brazilian makes her less attractive to UFC President Dana White as the star of the show. “The way they treat the American women and the Brazilian women is very different. But one thing they can’t take away from us—we are fighters. It’s hard to invest in someone just because they are pretty, or they are blond or they are an American. Inside the cage, none of that can protect you. You can take your favorite girl, do all the promotion for her, but when she faces a true fighter, the true fighter is going to win. There’s more to fighting than publicity.”
What appears to bother Cyborg the most is that Rousey never even took the steps necessary to fight her. “She jumped down to 135 pounds to not fight me. She’s not a real fighter. She got a lot of money, she stopped fighting. After UFC spent so much money promoting her and her fights. I never fought for money. I started fighting because I enjoyed it. Now I’ve made a lot of money—but I still do it.”
For UFC to not push someone with as sterling a record as Cyborg–her only loss was in her first fight, back in 2005–makes little sense, business or otherwise. She believes it’s more of a personal issue with UFC and White in particular–the company’s president has previously said that Cyborg “cut off her dick to make weight,” a comment that reportedly and understandably infuriated the Brazilian–and that she won’t get a crack at the superstardom her fighting pedigree merits.
Read Snowden’s full profile of Cris Cyborg over on Bleacher Report.