The former featherweight champion held off a stubborn challenge from Felicia Spencer on Saturday in the co-main event of UFC 240 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, winning a unanimous decision in which she was unable to drop her opponent despite a large number of big shots landed.
All three judges scored it 30-27 for Cyborg, who responded in championship style after her stunning first-round knockout loss at UFC 232 to Amanda Nunes. Yahoo Sports scored it 30-26 for Cyborg.
The loss to Nunes was Cyborg’s first since 2005, when she lost her pro debut. In the interim, she established herself as the greatest female fighter in the sport’s history, rolling through opponents with rare power.
Fighting on the last bout of her contract, she faced adversity early in the fight, when Spencer cut her with an elbow while they were fighting inside. Blood streamed down Cyborg’s face for most of the night, and Spencer never gave in.
She ate a number of huge right hands from Cyborg, shots that dropped most of her previous opponents, and kept looking for a way to submit Cyborg.
Cyborg appreciated the challenge because she remembers a time when there were few women fighting.
“This sport is growing and we see better and better girls [coming into it],” she said in the cage after the win. “It makes me happy. When I first started MMA, we didn’t have any girls. Now, you see [how good] these girls in the cage, it makes me proud.”
Spencer showed enormous strength, considering how strong Cyborg is, by several times forcing her to the cage and working in the clinch with her. Try as she might, though, she couldn’t get Cyborg to the canvas and that was her undoing.
For as well as Spencer fought, she didn’t have enough power on her punches to dissuade Cyborg from storming forward. A Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, Spencer’s only real chance was to get the fight to the ground and try to submit Cyborg.
While Cyborg tired in the second half of the fight and wasn’t her usual explosive self, she showed her class by preventing that.
The question now is if she re-ups with the UFC or moves on. She hasn’t gotten along well with White, the UFC president, and is sure as a free agent to receive offers from all major promotions.
But she also mentioned she’d like a rematch with Nunes, who defeated her in an explosive battle last year in Inglewood, California.
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