It would be incredibly difficult to have a discussion regarding the most dominant fighters in the history of mixed martial arts without mentioning the name Cris Cyborg.
A native of Curitiba, Brazil, the feared 33-year-old currently holds the UFC women’s featherweight championship and previously held both the Strikeforce and Invicta titles. In addition, she’s put together a run of success matched by few others in the sport.
Since losing her MMA debut in 2005, for example, Cyborg has gone unbeaten, compiling a 20-0-1 record with a no-contest stemming from a 2011 failed drug test. And not only has she rarely been tested inside of the cage, she’s also a ferocious finisher, having won 17 of her 20 fights via T/KO.
Given her success and the fashion in which she’s dispatched many of her opponents, Cyborg is typically discussed as one of the greatest female fighters of all-time and deservingly so. However, there is a bit of criticism in regards to her accomplishments and that primarily has to do with the level competition of she’s faced.
Years of domination from Cris Cyborg
Looking at her career as whole, it wasn’t until 2016 that Cyborg first competed inside of the UFC octagon, due somewhat in part to her failed drug test, but due in large part to the fact that the UFC didn’t have a 145-pound division for female fighters and Cyborg has always been too big to make the bantamweight limit of 135 pounds.
Prior to signing with the UFC, the Brazilian competed most notably under the Strikeforce and Invicta banners. It was during these years that she began to make a name for herself and she certainly picked up some big victories, specifically TKO wins over Gina Carano and Marloes Coenen, but it appeared as if she was facing overmatched competition for the most part.
And since her arrival in the UFC, that has remained the case to an extent. In fact, despite her holding a UFC title at 145 pounds, the promotion doesn’t exactly have a women’s featherweight division. There are no official rankings for the “division” and thus far, Cyborg has competed in two 140-pound catchweight bouts. Even her bouts that have been contested at 145 pounds have been against natural bantamweights.
In 2017, she successfully defended her title with a unanimous decision victory over former bantamweight champion Holly Holm, but aside from that, she hasn’t exactly faced top level competition in the UFC. That, however, isn’t necessarily her fault. As previously mentioned, the UFC simply hasn’t signed many high-level featherweights, but it’s also, at times, seemed difficult to find elite level opponents interested in sharing the cage with Cyborg.
On Saturday (Dec. 29) night in the co-main event of UFC 232, that narrative will change a bit, as Cyborg is scheduled to defend her title against reigning 135-pound titleholder Amanda Nunes. Sure, Nunes may not be able to fully match Cyborg in size, but she without question represents a legitimate challenge and an elite level opponent.
Having won seven-straight fights, Nunes has begun to enter herself into the greatest female fighter of all-time discussion due to an impressive resume that includes one-sided beatings of former champions Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey, and two victories over current flyweight titleholder Valentina Shevchenko.
Stylistically, Nunes possesses power in both hands and has the ability to overwhelm opponents with pressure, but she’s also rounded out her game over the years training at the famed American Top Team.
Ultimately, this is the fight that has seemed to elude Cyborg throughout her career thus far. While her dominance is unparalleled and her success undeniable, a win over Nunes, especially a dominant one or another vicious finish, would cement her legacy as one of the best to ever do it.
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