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Is Cyborg The True Face of Women’s MMA?


February 23, 2013 was a historic night for the UFC at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.

It was UFC 157, and in the main event, Ronda Rousey submitted Liz Carmouche with her signature armbar to defend the bantamweight title in the very first UFC women’s fight that set off a revolution in MMA.

At that time, Cristiane Justino already was known as a one of the most dangerous fighters in the world – male or female. But she wouldn’t get her moment in the UFC spotlight until May of 2016. Fast forward to Saturday night at UFC 214, and in the same building where Rousey made history, “Cyborg” finally became a UFC champion with a TKO of Tonya Evinger to win the women’s featherweight title.

It was just the second UFC women’s 145-pound bout to take place, though with inaugural champion Germaine de Randamie opting to have her belt stripped instead of defending it against Justino, it felt like a new beginning for the division.

And for Tito Ortiz, friend and training partner of Justino, it felt like history was made similar to Rousey’s four-and-a-half years ago.

“You know, I really do,” Ortiz told Submission Radio. “It’s just that I think Cris is more of a true person. You know, she really doesn’t let her head get to her. She’s very calm, collective and very mellow-mannered person. She’s an awesome woman. She doesn’t get cocky, she doesn’t treat people bad. Cris is a true champion. She’s a true people’s champion. She goes out of her way to help people, and that’s what champions are made of, and that’s what Cris is made of.”

Justino (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) and Rousey (12-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) beefed in the past during Rousey’s reign as UFC women’s bantamweight champion, though “Cyborg” made it clear during fight week she isn’t holding any grudges. Even though Justino said she has no desire to fill Rousey’s shoes as the new face of women’s MMA, Ortiz believes it’s inevitable.

Because it’s also long overdue.

“Yeah, that’s what’s going to happen to Cris Cyborg 100 percent. She is going to be the face of women’s MMA. She should have been a long time ago, she’s gonna be now,” Ortiz said. “You know, Ronda was a flash in the pan. And nothing against her, she was a great champ at the time, but when you’re getting hand-fed opponents, it is what it is. But Cris is not a person to submit people and give them an opportunity to do it again, she’s a person to knock people out – as you heard tonight at the press conference, people comparing her to a Mike Tyson.

“But now she’s a confident person, is keeping her hips low and, yeah, she swings like Mike Tyson. All of her sparring partners, man, they’re all men. We don’t have any women sparring partner with her, and when they do it’s just a confidence booster for her, and I’ve got to thank all of them for coming in and working with her. Cris is finally the UFC world champ.”

She certainly waited long enough to be called that. What she does with that title is up to her.

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Aaron Portier
Highly passionate MMA Journalist, and I've followed the sport ever since my favorite fighter, Vitor Belfort won the heavyweight tournament at UFC 12. After that I've tried to go to every local MMA event around the Gulf Coast and surrounding areas and decided to make it a point to have a career in some aspect in the fighting sport other than fighting in general (didn't want to ruin my face). I'm currently enrolled at Southeastern Louisiana University working towards a degree in Communication. I cover MMA, Boxing and Football for The Daily Star newspaper in my hometown of Hammond, Louisiana, in addition to working as a promotional writer for a local Boxing promotion known as BoxnCar and I cover boxing for 8countnews.com however SciFighting.com is my home. My main goal is to bring more publicity to MMA in my area and to the sport as a whole as all of us involved with the sport are merely scratching the surface and laying the foundation of what mixed martial arts competition will be further down the road.