Cris Cyborg Looks To Make MMA History at Bellator 238


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Cris Cyborg reacts to defeating Tonya Evinger during their Featherweight Title fight at UFC 214.

On Saturday, Jan. 25, former UFC Women’s Featherweight Champion Cris Cyborg will make her highly anticipated Bellator debut. She is on a mission to earn gold in her fourth MMA promotion, and to do that, she needs to dethrone the women’s featherweight champion, Julia Budd, at Bellator 238.

Heavy was able to catch up with Cyborg a few days before her fight in Inglewood, CA.

This will be her first bout since she departed the UFC, and for Cyborg, it’s good to be back in action. When Heavy asked Cyborg about transitioning to Bellator, she said:

“I’m excited and very motivated with this deal. I’m happy with this new chapter in my career. I haven’t felt this way in a long time, which motivates me to train hard and to be excited for this fight.”

According to Bellator president Scott Coker, and reported by MMA Junkie, Cyborg has signed the most lucrative deal in women’s MMA history.

Cyborg is taking on the inaugural and only Bellator women’s featherweight champion in history, Julia “The Jewel” Budd. Cyborg, who has been in the ring with some of the best women ever to fight, like Amanda Nunes and Holly Holm, has a lot of respect for Budd. She tells Heavy that Budd is a true 145-pounder, and that she’s done an “amazing job” as Bellator’s champion.

Budd is 13-2 in her professional MMA career and is currently on an 11-fight win streak that has spanned over seven years. She won the featherweight strap at Bellator 174 by defeating Marloes Coenen and has gone on to defend it on three occasions. Most recently, The Jewel finished Olga Rubin in the first round of their champion bout in July 2019 at Bellator 224.

Even with this impressive streak that Budd is on, she is a considerable underdog against Cyborg. At the time of this writing, BetDSI has Cyborg as a -417 betting favorite, and The Jewel as a +320 underdog.

There is a contingent of the MMA community that believes that Cyborg will get past Budd with relative ease. But when asked about that opinion, the former UFC champ said:

“The fighters make the fans; then the fans make the fighters. I just have to keep my focus and fight in the cage.”

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Cris Cyborg Looks to Win Her Fourth Featherweight Title in a Different Promotion

If Cyborg can defeat Budd on Saturday night, she will make history. By getting her hand raised on Saturday, Cyborg will have won every major world championship in her weight class. There have only been a couple MMA promotions that have supported a women’s Featherweight championship, and she will have won the strap in all of them, including Bellator, UFC, Invicta and Strikeforce.

Cyborg is going for the “grand slam,” and she tells Heavy:

“I’m very excited. Getting a fourth belt in different organizations is going to be hard, and it’s a lot of work, a lot of dedication. I’m very thankful for my team, thankful for the people around me. They motivate me every day to continue doing this.”

“Man, it’s going to be amazing,” Cyborg continues. “Every time I do something different, I show my fans ‘don’t quit.’ It doesn’t matter where you’re at now. You can’t quit; keep going. Everything that happens makes me strong. And this is the main thing. I fight for this. I fight to show my fans and my faith. And [to tell] them to keep going. Have faith, and [it’s] going to happen.”

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Cyborg Is Solely Focused on Gold, but She’s Happy With the Amount of Opportunity in Bellator’s Women’s Featherweight Division

As for what is in store for Cyborg this year, she wants to get the belt first before she starts talking about it.

“I’m just focusing on Julia, just focusing on Saturday,” Cyborg tells Heavy. “First, you have to focus on the one thing, one step each time.”

But looking at the potential in the division, Cyborg is happy with the amount of women’s featherweight fighters in Bellator. She tells Heavy that most of the world-class featherweights are in Bellator, barring a couple. Because of this, she feels like she will be able to be more active in Bellator than she was in UFC because of all the available opponents.

Bellator 238: Budd vs. Cyborg airs on DAZN on Saturday, Jan. 25, and the main card starts at 10 p.m. ET.

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