The entrance of women into the UFC has opened up unprecedented opportunities, with UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey reportedly becoming one of the top 10 best compensated fighters in the league history. Ironically, arguably the best female fighter in the sport, Cris 'Cyborg' Justino, has seen little of it.
Justino's next fight isn't even in MMA. On March 28 at The Joint inside Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Justino fights Jorina Baars, in Muay Thai. Baars also competes in MMA, where she holds a 1-3 record. Baars kickboxing record is reportedly 18-0.
Then Justino will be defending her Invicta featherweight title.
"There is nothing set right now, but I'm hearing maybe I will fight in May," Justino told B/R. "It will be against a Brazilian girl Ediane Gomes. I am looking forward to defending my belt, but I don't have a date yet."
Justino's Invicta belt is at 145, and the UFC has a 135 lb division, with a 115 one in development, effectively covering 105 (women can put on a little weight), 115 (check), 125 (women can drop or go up), 135 (check), and 145 (women can drop).
But can Justino drop safely to 135 and go to the UFC? Her former manager Tito Ortiz previously said the drop could kill her.
"I'm focused on my next fight and will have my Invicta fight after that, but it's possible," said Justino. "There are things I have to do before I can go down that road. After I have those fights, we'll see. I am going to do this fight for Lion Fights, then I'll defend my belt and I want to drop down to 135. After that, we will see."
There is a rumor that Gina Carano, who through her Strikeforce contract that ZUFFA acquired remains under contract with the UFC for her next four fights, could be fighting Rousey.
"This makes me laugh," said Justino. "The focus always gets put on the wrong person. Why do the UFC guys talk bad about me? Because she's running from me. I've been saying for a long time we can do this fight at 145 or 140, but that's not an option. But it's OK for her to fight Gina Carano at 140 or 145? Why? Because she's running from me, and they are protecting her. This is funny to me.
"Whenever people say something about me I try to prove they are wrong. It doesn't change me because they keep talking about me, and I keeping going forward. I keep training hard. I keep competing and keep working to improve my skills. It won't make me change who I am."
Rousey of course has reasonably and consistently stated that fighting in her own division does not constitute running, and that if Justino wants to fight, she knows where she is.
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