Cris Cyborg is truly an athlete ahead of her time, which makes it all the more depressing that she seems destined to spend the majority of that time toiling away in the UFC's nonexistent featherweight division.
Not that the UFC is to blame for Cyborg's lack of options, necessarily. In order to give her a weight class to rule over, it would have to absorb almost the entirety of Invicta's featherweight division (most of whom Cyborg has already defeated). And in order to give her the "money fight" she is entitled to, the UFC would have to establish even the vaguest timeline for Ronda Rousey's return (which looks like it will probably be at bantamweight, anyway).
Even if the UFC didn't really have a plan for Cyborg in mind, you can't exactly blame the promotion for wanting to sign one of the most vicious and highest drawing female competitors in the game today, can you?
Regardless, the simple fact of the matter is, in just two fights, Cyborg has all but exhausted her list of potential challengers to face. There are still a couple bantamweights who could move up in weight to challenge her -- Cat Zingano and Germaine de Randamie come to mind -- but with no actual title to fight for, it'll only be a matter of time before Cyborg's string of meaningless catchweight squash matches begin to feel like just that.
Thankfully, an incredibly enticing third option for Cyborg has recently emerged from a place you might not expect it: the boxing world.
In an interview with BoxingScene, number-1 pound-for-pound female boxer Cecilia Braekhus put out a challenge to Cyborg that would be enough to garner any fight fan's interest.
"Two things I want to do next year - fight in the United States and fight Cris Cyborg. She's been talking loudly about fighting me in a boxing match and I'm all for it. And the United States is a place I've wanted to fight for many years and want to make that happen in 2017 as well."
Fresh off a victory over fellow elite boxer Anne Sophie Mathis, Braekhus has been competing since 2007 in her native Norway, and currently holds a perfect professional record of 28-0. She is the first and only woman to hold the IBF, WBC, WBO and WBA titles and has additionally competed in kickboxing tournaments throughout her career.
Although Cyborg has yet to compete in the boxing ring, she has compiled a 2-1 record in Muay Thai, most recently dropping a unanimous decision to Dutch champion Jorina Baars at Lion Fight 14 in 2014. Her obvious experience disadvantage to Braekhus aside, it would be interesting to see how far Cyborg's raw knockout power would carry her against a technical, but decision-prone, striker like the Norwegian.
Given Cyborg's commitments to both the UFC and Invicta at the moment, a fight with Braekhus may not be possible anytime soon, but it's nice to see that "The First Lady" is at least floating the idea out there.
Legitimate opportunities to blend the worlds of MMA and boxing don't come along very often, and should be embraced from both sides of the fence.