Dana White addresses potential Cyborg vs. Rousey fight but has no plans for new women's division
The ongoing dilemma facing UFC president Dana White is what to do with Cris “Cyborg” Justino. The current Invicta 145-pound champion is the most dominant female in women’s MMA, but she doesn’t have a place in the UFC to call home.
This weekend, Cyborg will have her second fight in the UFC at a catchweight of 140 pounds against Lina Lansberg at UFC Fight Night 95 in Brasilia, Brazil. It’s a fight where Cyborg is a heavy favorite at -1200, according to Sportsbook Review.
Another notch in the win column is probable for the Brasilian, but what Cyborg will do next is still up in the air. White recently spoke to Brazil’s Globo and stated under no uncertain terms that there are “no plans” for the UFC to add a 145- or 125-pound division.
“As far as a heavier division, no I don’t see that happening,” White said. “I don’t see that happening any time soon, but the 115-pound division continues to get bigger.”
This puts Cyborg in a bind as she struggled mightily to make 140 pounds for her last fight against Leslie Smith. Video circulated of the grueling weight cut that brought Cyborg to tears. She’s made it clear that she is unable to make 135 pounds and that leaves White limited on options for the toughest woman on the planet.
The prevailing thought is that there aren’t enough 145-pound women to fill a new division and make it competitive. However, the same was initially said about the women’s bantamweight division that Ronda Rousey ruled for a few years. Today, the playing field at 135 pounds is far more level than what it was when it debuted in 2013. In the past year, the title has changed hands three times, with Amanda Nunes currently holding the belt.
Speaking of Rousey, a fight with Cyborg is still the biggest showdown in all of women’s MMA. Rousey’s future remains uncertain but with her no longer being the 135-pound champion, it’s possible that this fight could still be made. Cyborg has actively called for it and now White has addressed the potential fight.
“I think in a perfect world, what everybody would love to see is Ronda vs. Cyborg, so everybody is waiting on — I’m sure Cyborg is, too — is the return of Ronda Rousey,” White said. “When she does return, I’m sure [Rousey is] gonna want to fight for the title, probably defend it and then maybe fight Cyborg. I don’t know. We’ll see how this thing plays out.”
But if Rousey doesn’t return, White is hoping that a few of the top-tier names in the 135-pound division will move up in weight to challenge Cyborg.
“I think that Cyborg has made it clear that she can’t make 135 pounds. We do have a couple of really good girls at 135 that would like to fight Cyborg, that would like to move up and take that challenge,” he said. “The dream fight for Cyborg is obviously the Ronda Rousey fight, but there’s other big names out there like Miesha Tate, Holly Holm and possibly — and I know Brazilians don’t like seeing Brazilians fight — but possibly Amanda Nunes.”
But, as it stands right now, Cyborg remains a woman who may be the most dominant force in women’s MMA, but she cannot be a champion in the UFC unless something drastic changes in the near future and a new division opens up for her.