A few weeks ago, things between Dana White and Cris Cyborg finally came to a head. For weeks leading up to UFC 240, White had publicly criticized one of his biggest stars, intimating that she was afraid of rematching Amanda Nunes. Cyborg fired back and eventually, White went ahead and released Cyborg from her contract with the UFC just days after she finished up her last bout on that contract, meaning Cyborg was free to negotiate immediately with other organizations instead of sitting out for the three-month re-signing period to lapse. The whole thing was as acrimonious a split as there has ever been in the UFC but a few weeks removed from it, and with the prospect of moving onto a new organization, Cyborg seems to be in good spirits.
“Everything I did, I was always feeling in my heart. I don’t regret anything. . .”
“The UFC is in the past. It’s in the past since my last fight. I put it in the past in my heart. I believe I made a lot in the UFC. I believe I’m one of the girls who fought in the UFC who has more wins than losses. I believe all places I’ve been had something special in it. With the UFC, I wanted to be fighting in the UFC. I went through all the hard time cutting weight to make my division and they made it. Amanda is the champion, there is a division. Every moment of my life I start a project and the UFC project was to have my division. I put an effort to get down to the division, I made it, and there is a division now.”
Cyborg doesn’t have much to regret. Had she never signed with the UFC she would still go down as an MMA pioneer and one of the greatest fighters of all time. That she did, and became a UFC champion only adds to her legacy, a legacy that is nearly perfect save her loss to Amanda Nunes last year. Contrary to what Dana White frequently repeated, Cyborg has been lobbying for a rematch with Nunes since the say she lost the title and with her firmly out of the UFC now, it appears that fight will never happen. Cyborg says that you can never say never but that at the end of the day, sticking around for the Nunes rematch is not plausible when her relationship with the UFC had soured as much as it had.
“Who knows? Maybe if we meet in another place,” Cyborg said. “For sure I want the rematch but if it doesn’t happen now, I believe in God’s time. Everyone knows that my relationship with Dana White is something that is not healthy for anyone. It became personal. When that happens, the best is to be apart and move one.”
In the meantime, Cyborg is moving on and she’s doing so quicker than fans might have expected. Cyborg revealed that she was close to signing a contract with an organization, that she expects to do that in the next month, and that she plans on fighting before the year is over, maybe even in Brazil.
“I believe I’ll sign my new contract in less than 30 days,” Cyborg said. “I’ll be online to tell everybody about my new place where Cyborg will be welcome. I have to thank Dana for sending me a letter two days after my win. It really helped me to negotiate.”
“I’ll be back to Brazil soon, for sure. It’s part of my plan for the new contract I sign and I am very happy.”
Cyborg wouldn’t say where she was signing but she may have let it slip accidentally. When discussing moving on to the next phase of her career, and explaining that leaving the UFC was natural because she had already done that with other organizations in the past, Cyborg accidentally interjected “Bellator” before quickly correcting herself and saying “not yet”.
“I’ve passed through many cycles already and in a cycle there is always beginning, middle, and end,” Cyborg said. “Invicta had an end Bellator – no, [laughing] not Bellator yet – the UFC had a beginning, middle, and end. Strikeforce. So I’m starting a new cycle. I’m happy, anxious, looking forward to starting. It’s good to start new projects and I’m looking forward to that.”
Bellator has always made the most sense for Cyborg’s next home after the UFC. Bellator already has been focused on building a legitimate featherweight division and Cyborg has a good relationship with Bellator CEO Scott Coker dating back to her days in Strikeforce. And for Cyborg that may be more important at this point. It certainly seems like that is the case as Cyborg concluded by saying that she is choosing to sign with the unnamed organization because she won’t have to deal with any of the issues she faced in the UFC.
“When I ended my cycle with the UFC, I had two choices,” Cyborg said.
“The option I chose, where I am now is the option where I see my future grow. I’ll be fighting more times a year, I won’t have any trouble, I’ll be happy. That’s what I see.”
It’s hard to imagine all this isn’t pointing to Bellator. After all, in recent years Bellator has made a concerted effort towards international expansion but has yet to host an event on Brazilian soil, one of the largest MMA markets in the world. Cris Cyborg would be the perfect fighter to main event Bellator’s first Brazilian card. It’s a match made in heaven.