At UFC 240 this past weekend, Cris Cyborg got back into the win column, picking up a unanimous decision victory over 28-year-old Canadian Felicia Spencer. The win provided Cyborg with a much-needed step in the right direction, as she lost her title and suffered a brutal 51-second knockout loss to Amanda Nunes in her previous bout.
Following UFC 240, the 34-year-old Cyborg could certainly be in line for a title shot. What’s important to note, however, is that her bout against Spencer marked the final fight on her UFC contract. Given that she’s not only one of the most skilled female fighters on the planet but also one of the most popular, it’s expected that she’ll have no shortage of offers moving forward.
Let’s take a look at what could be next for the Brazilian.
A Return to the UFC
At this moment, it seems as if the upcoming negotiation process between Cyborg and the UFC is going to be quite a difficult one. It’s no secret that the two sides haven’t always had the best relationship. But recently, it seems as if that relationship has simply gotten worse and worse.
For example, UFC President Dana White has continued to say that Cyborg doesn’t want a rematch with Nunes. Cyborg, meanwhile, has continued to say that White is lying when it comes to that topic.
In addition, the former 145-pound champion discussed the topic on Monday’s edition of Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show. She said that she plans to wait out her three-month free agent exclusivity window to hear other offers. She said that things must change in order for a new deal with the UFC to be made. And finally, she said that she wants to hear public apologies from both White and UFC commentator Joe Rogan for comments they have made about her.
Obviously, a return to the UFC is not a guarantee. As always, however, things can change. That is especially true given the fact that the biggest fight available to Cyborg is in the UFC.
Simply put, there’s no denying that a rematch with Nunes would be a huge fight. Financially, it’s likely the biggest fight on the table for Cyborg. In addition, a rematch is undeniably the most important fight possible for her in terms of her career and her legacy.
If Cyborg would like a chance at revenge and a chance to reclaim her title and to put herself back into the discussion of the greatest female fighters of all-time, she’ll look to remain in the UFC.
A Move To Bellator
In recent years, we’ve seen many UFC fighters fight out their contracts before signing deals with Bellator. That is certainly a possibility for Cyborg and it could appeal to her for multiple reasons.
First and foremost, she has a prior working relationship with Bellator President Scott Coker. She fought under him in Strikeforce, a promotion where she was a champion, from 2009-11. Coker has been known to treat his fighters well and given Cyborg’s complaints regarding her treatment in the UFC, a reunion with Coker could make sense.
In addition, Bellator currently boasts a full-fledged women’s featherweight division filled with a talented champion in Julia Budd and a plethora of contenders. That is simply something the UFC cannot offer, as the promotion’s 145-pound division is home to very few fighters.
In other words, Bellator could provide Cyborg with quite a few opportunities. For example, a bout with Budd, who’s considered by many to be one of the best featherweights in the world, would be an enticing option. Outside of that, however, Cyborg would have no shortage of opponents in Bellator.
A Chance at $1 Million With The PFL
While it may not be her top option, a move to the Professional Fighters League could make quite a bit of sense for Cyborg as well.
The PFL, which has gained steam over the last year or so, is now on ESPN and provides fighters with a unique opportunity. The league is run like many other professional sporting leagues, consisting of a regular season, playoffs and the chance to win $1 million.
In addition to that, the PFL, unlike both the UFC and Bellator, has a women’s lightweight division, which could also appeal to Cyborg. It’s no secret that the Brazilian is a huge featherweight. She has a tough time making the 145-pound limit and had an even worse time making 140 pounds, which she had to do for her first two fights in the UFC.
If she were to sign with the PFL, she could compete at 155 pounds. Aside from simply having to cut less weight, perhaps she would perform better at that weight, which is something that may cross her mind.
In terms of opponents, the PFL has some notable female fighters competing under its banner such as Kayla Harrison and Sarah Kaufman. It’s Harrison, though, that could be of interest to Cyborg.
Despite only having five professional MMA fights under her belt, Harrison, a two-time Olympic gold medalist who’s now undefeated in MMA, has quickly become a star for the PFL. If she continues to progress, a bout between her and Cyborg could be huge in the future.
That type of fight along with the other aforementioned reasons could make the PFL a possible destination for Cris Cyborg.
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