Though the MMA world-at-large may have been shocked Tuesday at the UFC’s announcement that they’d decided to promote a female featherweight UFC title fight next year without involving the 145lbs world champion, the featherweight queen herself was not. Cris “Cyborg” Justino’s team sent us a written statement late Tuesday night saying that she felt the UFC’s decision to initially exclude her from a division she’s been champion of for years, and campaigned for inclusion in the UFC, despite the promotion long insisting could not exist, came down to president Dana White’s enmity towards her.
“It’s no surprise to me, it has always been personal between Dana and me,” Justino told us in her statement.
“I agreed to fight Holly at UFC Brasilia and had no problem fighting her for the first belt, I just asked them to give me a date in March. Dana White spent 10 years telling fans there was no one for me to fight, but now he finds a girl who is 0-2 and another who hasn’t fought at 145 in half a decade to fight for the belt, instead of waiting to promote the fight when I’m healthy.
The UFC’s first featherweight title-fight will be between former bantamweight champ Holly Holm, who has lost her last two fights, and Germaine De Randamie, who has won two-straight, and four out of her last five, at bantamweight.
Justino was pushed by the UFC to make an especially dangerous cut to a catchweight of 140lbs, in her first two UFC bouts. The Brazilian icon did so and won both fights, while also drawing big television ratings.
She then said that she would only fight again for the UFC if it were at featherweight. While on vacation after her most recent brutal weight cut and win in late September, the UFC reportedly offered Justino two different opponents at UFC 208 for what would be the promotion’s late adopting of the women’s featherweight class, and absorbing the world champion into their ranks, in a similar way to how they did when Jose Aldo and Ronda Rousey were brought in from other promotions as lineal champions of their divisions, in years past.
Justino said she needed more time to recover and then begin another camp, but expressed excitement that the UFC was finally adding a featherweight division. Then, the UFC announced that they wouldn’t wait for the featherweight champion to promote a featherweight title bout.
Justino’s insists that the promotion’s reasoning is based on personal feelings from White, who in the past has hurled misogynistic insults at Justino.
“This was a personal decision about Dana White not wanting to promote me,” she concluded.
“If My last fight was at 145 I would not have needed the extra time for recovery.”