Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino finally made her long awaited UFC debut on Saturday, in Curitiba, Brazil. An estimated 45,000 fans packed into the Arena da Baixada on Saturday night at UFC 198, making the event the third-largest crowd in the promotion's history. The stage was set for Cyborg to step up and claim her mantle as one of the most dangerous fighters in MMA, and that's exactly what she did.
The current Invicta featherweight champion wasted no time in her demolition of Leslie Smith. With her infamous swarming style of fighting, Cyborg proved just too powerful for Smith, overcoming her at 1:21 into the first round in a 140-pound catchweight bout. The win signaled the 14th technical knockout of her career and laid out her intentions for domination in the UFC.
Of course, Cyborg didn't have long to bask in her historic win before talk soon turned to where she goes next and who her opponent will be. Weight is the main issue when it comes to setting up fights for Cyborg in the UFC, as she regularly walks around at 170 pounds in between fights. With former bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey refusing any fight that isn't at 135 pounds, it seemed Cyborg was destined to never enter the UFC. But now she has, and the door has been firmly kicked open. Here are just a few fights we'd love to see set up for Cyborg.
First and foremost we have to take into account the current UFC women's bantamweight champion of the world, Miesha Tate. Despite adopting the nickname "Cupcake," Tate is anything but soft and never runs away from a fight. Already expressing a willingness to fight Cyborg at 140 pounds, the current champ was keen to throw her hat into the ring following Cyborg's win at 198.
A title fight between Tate and Cyborg would certainly be a high-drawing event. Women's MMA is experiencing a really exciting growth in popularity, and with a potential super fight for a title between these two fearsome ladies would only reinforce the growing ladies' reputation. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely Cyborg could cut to 135 pounds. Thankfully, Tate still hasn't ruled out a catchweight fight!
The second name that comes to mind is Holly Holm. Shaking up the MMA world by dethroning the dominant Ronda Rousey, Holm looked set to be the next big name in women's MMA. Although her reign as champ was cut short by Miesha Tate, Holm still provides a daunting challenge for any women within the sport. Like Tate, Holm refused to rule out the possibility of fighting Cyborg at a heavier weight. Already fighting at 154, 145 and 138 as a boxer, Holm is well adept to fighting both heavier opponents. With a devastating stand up game, it would be intriguing to find out how Holm would fare on her feet against the vicious Cyborg.
"I'm not against options for other fights," Holm recently told reporters. "I don't know how high I would go. I have fought at heavier weights in boxing. It kind of changes things with MMA, because there's wrestling. Boxing, I think, is a little different, because you're not dealing with somebody's strength and weight on you as far as wrestling and grappling. But I do feel like I'm a bigger 135er. I don't know. I guess I would just have to see if whatever would unfold if that was an option."
A fight between Ronda Rousey and Cyborg has been talked about for years. With no love lost between the fighters, it appeared that Rousey was always ducking Cyborg using her past PED suspension as the explanation as to why she wouldn't fight her. However, now with her in the UFC and Rousey looking to reclaim the spotlight of women's MMA, surely there could be no better way than a victory over her arch nemesis, Cyborg. Following her win on Saturday night, Cyborg posted a photoshopped image of Ronda Rousey to her Facebook, calling her out for a fight at UFC 205 in New York.
Editor's note: Yeah, we get that Marloes isn't currently signed by the UFC and the fight will likely never happen. But whatever, man.
One of the main problems with finding fights for Cyborg in the UFC is the scarcity of elite talent at featherweight in women's MMA. Step up Bellator competitor Marloes Coenen. Currently seen as the No. 2-ranked featherweight fighter in the world, according to the Unified Women's MMA Rankings, Coenen is a former Strikeforce women's bantamweight champion. Also, she's really familiar with Cyborg, having lost twice to her, most recently in 2013. Fighting for the inaugural Invicta FC 145-pound title, it took until the fourth round for Cyborg to finally get the better of Coenen. She has the ability to fight comfortably at 145 pounds or drop to a catchweight fight at 140.
Last but certainly not least is the first woman to win The Ultimate Fighter, Juliana Peña. The "Venezuelan Vixen" has a professional record of 7-2, and is coming off the back of a three-fight win streak. Peña shot to prominence when she upset the odds by beating veteran and top-10 ranked Shayna Baszler during The Ultimate Fighter. At the tender age of 26, the No. 5-ranked bantamweight fighter has proven that she has knockout power and the ability to take it to the ground. An exciting prospect within the UFC, we'll next see Peña take on a game Cat Zingano at UFC 200.
Are there any other fights you'd like to see for Cyborg? Let us know in the comment section below!