Cris Cyborg plotting move to bantamweight, would welcome Gina Carano’s return

Cris Cyborg sent Gina Carano into retirement following this fight in 2009.

Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

There is a ticking time limit on how much longer the women of the bantamweight division will go on before the most dominant fighter of the last decade arrives . . . and her name is not Ronda Rousey.

Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino will start making the cut down to 135 pounds later this year with a long-term goal of getting to the UFC and snatching the women’s bantamweight title away from Rousey. Cyborg has stood alone as the most dominant fighter at 145 pounds, dispatching of every opponent from Marloes Coenen to Gina Carano, but the idea of shaving off another 10 pounds seemed next to impossible.

At 5’8" tall and a muscled 145 pounds even when dropping to that weight division, Cyborg consulted her doctors recently to see about making the move down to bantamweight. It won’t be easy and it’s not going to happen overnight, but she is committed to putting in the work and dropping the weight.

"Everything I put in my head, I get it," Cyborg told FOX Sports on Thursday. "Because I have good discipline, good training and this is an opportunity. It started with my dieting, my training and different training for 135 in December. I will try 100 percent because I want to make 135. I want to make sure, but I’ll go 100 percent and I will try, I want it."

In a previous meeting with her physicians, Cyborg says that they were against her making a move down in weight because it could cause serious physical damage to her body and long term no fighter wants to sacrifice health for one MMA bout. The key this time around, according to the Brazilian, is to make a slow transition and realize that she won’t be fighting at 135 pounds forever.

This is the first time I put my mind to it and think I can (make the weight). I want to make 135 but I want to keep my size

— Cris Cyborg 

"Before, when I go to the doctor he said ‘You can’t drop more than three times because it’s not healthy.’ I know it’s not healthy," Cyborg said. "I walk around at 160 and I have a lot of muscle, and I need to lose muscle. This is the first time I put my mind to it and think I can. I have the support with the people behind me, I have dieting people and I have my team and we can do this. I want to make 135, but I want to keep my size."

The timeline for Cyborg to make the cut has already started with her idea to drop down a division happening late last year. She first has a professional Muay Thai fight with the Lion Fights promotion in Las Vegas on March 28, and then another bout in the summer before she plans to return to Invicta Fighting Championships for her first bantamweight MMA matchup. 

Long term, Cyborg wants to silence Rousey once and for all, but the former Olympic bronze medalist isn’t the only reason she’s making the move. While many still consider her to be the best pound-for-pound women’s fighter on the planet, Cyborg knows beating the best at bantamweight will only strengthen her cause.

"The first time I drop to 135 I’ll fight in Invicta, and everything else will happen after that is a consequence. My focus isn’t only on her," Cyborg said about Rousey. "My focus is on my next fight in Muay Thai and then fight in Invicta at 135 first, and after that is the consequence. This fight against Ronda is very important because everybody wants to watch and for sure I want to fight her. Because she’s always talking about me, wanting to fight me, well let’s go. I’ll be ready."

And as far as Cyborg’s recent statement saying that she would retire Ronda Rousey the same way she retired former Strikeforce fighter Gina Carano?  Well, those words may have been a bit too harsh because in reality, Cyborg actually liked Carano quite a bit before and after they fought in 2009.

Those feelings of admiration are not extended to Rousey.

"She never stops talking about me," Cyborg stated about Rousey. "I said that and I respect Gina (Carano), Gina’s a very nice girl, a very respectful girl, she’s a very good fighter, but (Ronda) spoke a lot of stuff about me. I love fighting, if I fight her I will keep fighting, I’m not a fake fighter, and if I fight her maybe she’ll stop fighting and not want to fight anymore. I know one thing I have inside my heart, I’m a true fighter. If I fight her, I don’t know, maybe she won’t fight anymore."

She’s good for women’s MMA. I want her to come back. It’s good for all of those that like to watch her

— Cris Cyborg on Gina Carano 

Cyborg did take it one step further when talking about Carano given the recent rumors that she could possibly return to fighting later this year. The Brazilian fighter would personally love to see Carano come back to MMA and believes it could be a huge boost to women’s fighting in general.

"I think it’s great because when I fought her, she has a lot of fans follow her and this is very good for women’s MMA," Cyborg said. "I’m not selfish, I think she’s very good and she’s got good Muay Thai and she has a lot of fans follow her. She’s good for women’s MMA. I want her to come back.  It’s good for all of those that like to watch her."

Next up for Cyborg is her Muay Thai title fight in March, then another this summer before she makes her official move down to bantamweight. Assuming everything goes well in that first fight, it’s highly possible the UFC will be calling to retain her services shortly thereafter.