Cris Cyborg is set to make the first defense of her Bellator featherweight championship this Thursday at Bellator 249. And for the first time in years, she’ll be fighting an actual member of her division, with an establish record in the promotion. Rather than just a fighter brought in as a one-off, or a bantamweight moving up.
Which is, bluntly, what happened in the UFC, prior to Amanda Nunes ending her reign in that promotion. But since coming to Bellator, Cyborg has been perched upon an actual featherweight division. Her current challenger, Arlene Blencowe, has won three straight bouts. She’s shared the cage with some of the top featherweights out there, including ex-champ Julia Budd.
Cyborg has been keeping an eye on the weight class since arriving in Bellator. She even popped up in the Youtube comments section during Sinead Kavanagh’s recent bout. “I like to watch all the fights. It makes me very happy that Bellator has the full division,” Cyborg (22-2, 1NC) said during the Bellator 249 media day this week. “A lot of girls in my division. I just have to keep my eye on them, and keep training.”
“The one thing that makes me really happy is they’re real 145lb’ers,” she added. “I always fought for this. In the beginning of my career, I always believed in the 145lb division.”
Again, reiterated Cyborg, it makes her happy that “Scott Coker is signing all the girls at 145. It’s going to be a great division, it’s going to be great fights.”
It will no doubt be good for her legacy as well. But for now, Cyborg tries to keep those sorts of thoughts at bay. “For me, I always think in my mind, I’m the number one contender always. I’m going to fight and get my title.”
It’s an approach she always takes before her fights. Keeping that challenger’s midset “motivates me every time, every morning when I wake up,” she noted. “I don’t put too much pressure on me,” she continued — other than in the gym.
When it comes to legacy and big fights, one opportunity Cyborg would love is a chance to fight in Japan. “I have a dream to fight in Japan. I never had the opportunity to fight in Japan,” she said. Bellator visited the Land of the Rising Sun last December in a cross-promotional event with RIZIN Fighting Federation.
“For me, if I have the opportunity over there, for sure,” Cyborg exclaimed. Bellator working with other promotions, she added, was one of the “very cool” things about the organization, regardless of where it’s at.
Watch the full Bellator 249 virtual media day scrum with Cris Cyborg above.