Immediately after defeating Felicia Spencer at UFC 240 on Saturday night in Edmonton, former UFC featherweight champion Cris Cyborg stated that she wants to fight Amanda Nunes next. She was even wearing a shirt that said she wanted the fight in January of 2020.
UFC president Dana White is all in. "That's the fight to make... If she really wants that fight, I don’t see how we don’t make a deal."
In defeating Spencer, Cyborg fought the last bout of her current UFC contract. So there is some work to do before a fight with Nunes can happen. The UFC will first have to negotiate a new contract with her, which may not prove to be all that easy because of her fractured relationship with White.
White has painted Cyborg as perhaps being afraid to take the fight because she could be concerned with losing again. Cyborg, however, has said outright that her not wanting the fight Nunes is a lie.
As is frequently the case, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. As Cyborg explained in more detail at the UFC 240 post-fight press conference, she has felt disrespected and "bullied" by White, and needs that situation to be ironed out before a new contract can happen.
Right now, Cyborg doesn't seem to feel like she and the UFC are working in partnership.
"Everybody knows that I don’t have the best relationship with UFC. I don’t have the best relationship with Dana White. He’s bully me around, bully me on the internet," Cyborg explained.
"Saying I’m scared to fight Amanda Nunes. Saying I don’t want to fight her, this is liar because I text him after the fight saying I want the rematch. This is don’t help me growing my brand. This is damage my brand. And for keeping me working for promotion, I don’t want somebody damage my brand. I want to grow together. We’re going to have to take a little time and see what is going to be better for me."
There are other issues, of course. The UFC's female featherweight roster is anemic, at best. Though Cyborg has been fighting in the Octagon since 2016, several of her opponents have been bantamweight fighters that moved up to featherweight specifically to fight her, and then dropped back down to 135 pounds. There are few true 145-pound women on the roster, which makes it difficult for Cyborg to stay busy.
She has fought seven times in three-and-a-half years, but would like to stay busier than that.
"I wait nine months for fight Amanda Nunes after Holly Holm. This is not good for the fighter. It’s good to be active," said Cyborg.
But what she really wants is to at least have the respect of her boss. Cyborg is under no false assumptions that she and White need to be friends, but she does need to feel like they are on the same team. If that can be worked out, we might just see Nunes vs. Cyborg 2 after all.
"It’s not just about money, it’s about respect," said Cyborg. “You don’t have to love the boss, you just have to have respect between both. This is to make everything work together.”