In the first of three title fights at UFC 214 in Anaheim, CA on Saturday, Cris “Cyborg” Justino finally got her shot at UFC gold. Standing before her was former Invicta FC bantamweight Queen Tonya Evinger. Evinger had not lost a fight in roughly six years; Cris Cyborg for over a decade. Clearly, someone’s undefeated streak was about to come to an end.
With Germaine de Randamie dropping her featherweight title (won at UFC 208 in February against Holly Holm) rather than fight Cyborg, and Invicta FC featherweight champ Megan Anderson pulling out of the fight for personal reasons, it felt as if just about anything could have scuttled this particular title fight. So it was something of a relief when the cage door finally closed, and this one was officially underway.
With a touch of the gloves they were off. Evinger worked the jab and threw a kick but was dropped with the first shot from Cyborg. She worked her way back up, looking unsteady, but Cyborg swarmed against the cage and hurt her again. Evinger clinched and held on for dear life then pulled guard. Justino was having none of that and stood up. Evinger swung wild with an overhand that missed, and was soon backed up against the fence. She would later clinch and actually get a brief takedown only to eat a knee as they got back to the feet. An eye poke by Evinger briefly paused the action. Back underway Cyborg landed an inside leg kick, which Evinger returned. Evinger ate a knee, but survived by clinching. Cyborg just missed with a high kick as Evinger was getting to her feet. Cyborg then clipped Evinger with a right counter. More leg kicks from the Brazilian followed. A right stunned Evinger towards the end of the round, and a knee landed right at the horn, but it would go to a second.
In the second, Cyborg scored with a left early. Evinger checked a kick, but her legs were showing damage. A hard kick to the body stunned Evinger next. The American continued to try to clinch and get her opponent down, but couldn’t find much success and continued to eat punches. Cyborg continued to kick the legs, and clipped Evinger again towards the final minute of the second round.
In the third, a huge right hand rocked Evinger early, and set up a knockdown seconds later. Cyborg came in with hard leg kicks on the downed Evinger; she then backed up and forced the American back to her feet. Later in the round, a pair of knees to the head of Evinger as she was bent over against the cage finished the job, as Cyborg scored the finish, and became UFC women’s featherweight champion in the process!
Cris Cyborg def. Tonya Evinger by TKO (knees), Round 3, 1:56 – to capture the vacant UFC women’s featherweight championship