Featherweight Cris Cyborg sees one key difference between her old home in the UFC and her new stomping ground in Bellator MMA, and shows interest in grand prix.
Cris Cyborg is entering her twenty-fifth pro fight at Bellator 238, where she takes on the promotion’s featherweight champion Julia Budd. Yet while it’s far from her first fight, it is a new home for Cyborg.
So is the feeling any different? Well, there seems to be one key change for the multi-promotion champ, at least from her UFC days.
“I don’t have any problems with my boss, I just go to work.” That line, early in Monday’s open workout media scrum with Cris Cyborg in Los Angeles, was telling. Cyborg has consistently talked about being happy, and it’s clear that the source of her unhappiness in recent years was her old boss, UFC President Dana White.
The tension between Cyborg and White has been well-documented over the years. The pair bumped heads over White bullying his now former fighter, calling her “Wanderlei Silva in a dress,” as well as over whether or not she was willing to face Amanda Nunes in a rematch from their UFC 232 fight. Cyborg said she wanted the fight, going as far as having t-shirts made to promote it. White, however, accused her of being scared to face ‘The Lioness’ a second time.
Ugly, on all sides. But now that Cyborg has arrived in Scott Coker’s Bellator MMA, hopefully that’s behind her.
Aside from a better working relationship with her boss, not much else has changed. “You have to be professional. You have to be ready for interviews, ready for training, for media time. I learned a lot with my last promotion, but this is just making me a better fighter, a better professional.” Business as usual, in other words.
The drive, however, is still there. “I love my job. I love to see my fans. When I see my fans really happy, it inspires me to be the best.” That, first and foremost, fuels her. Later, she’d add that Jesus inspires her as well. “He showed love. He don’t judge you. He loves you. I try to show my fans the same thing. Change the hate for love.”
When Cyborg meets up with Julia Budd, it will be arguably the most important fight for the featherweight division outside a rematch with Amanda Nunes. Budd hasn’t lost in years, and has been dominant in Bellator, and everywhere else. “I think she’s a great fighter. She’s a real 145lb [fighter],” Cyborg said of her opponent. “She’s the champion a long time, undefeated eight years. I think it’ll be a great challenge for me.”
“I always like to challenge myself,” Cyborg said when asked about a possible boxing fight. Her Bellator contract allows that. She’s gone so far as to train with boxing champ Claressa Shields, who has been linked to a fight with UFC champ Amanda Nunes of late — though Nunes, for her part, doesn’t seem interested.
Another challenge would be a featherweight grand prix for the ladies. “Right now my thought first is Julia. But if I have the opportunity, I think the one dream I have is making a grand prix,” Cyborg admitted Monday.
“I think Scott [Coker] is open to that,” Cyborg added. “Maybe more than one fight in the night.” Cyborg also appeared interested in having such an event in Japan. “They have a lot of fighters over there [that do that]. I think that this is going to be a dream come true for me.”
“If [Scott Coker] is giving me the opportunity, for sure, I’d like to do it,” she finished.
Watch the full press scrum with Cris Cyborg from her open workout Monday above!