UFC champ Cris Cyborg waiting for right deal to fight Holly Holm at UFC 219

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Cris Cyborg’s longtime manager said he and his team are in “daily” communications with UFC officials as a fight offer looms for UFC 219.

“It’s been pretty aggressive on both sides,” George Prajin today told MMAjunkie. “Both sides want it to happen.”

Cyborg (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) could look to defend her women’s featherweight title against ex-bantamweight champ Holly Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) at the Dec. 30 pay-per-view event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Holm already has said she’s open to the fight. But Prajin said a new deal needs to be struck before Justino can commit.

“The UFC wants to have a longterm future with her,” he said. “She does as well. She just wants to be paid her value.”

At the press conference for this past Saturday’s UFC 216 event, UFC President Dana White expressed confidence a deal would get done with the champ.

“It’s not done yet,” he told MMAjunkie. “I can never predict what’s going to happen, but I think we’ll get it done. Soon.”

The clock is ticking on Justino’s contract. Prajin said UFC 219 could potentially be her final obligation to the promotion. A report in April from MMAFighting.com states the deal will expire this month, regardless of how many fights are remaining.

Asked about a “champion’s clause” that typically extends a current titleholder’s contract with the promotion for three fights or one year, whichever comes first, Prajin said, “That’s an interpretation of a contract that I’d rather not discuss publicly, because that’s an argument that can be made both ways.”

Prajin declined to comment further on the details of Cyborg’s contract.

Justino signed a seven-fight deal in 2014 that saw her compete under the all-female Invicta FC banner before migrating to the UFC. The promotion eyed a showdown with now ex-bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, but the fight never materialized. Rousey suffered a brutal knockout to Holm – and then current bantam champ Amanda Nunes – and Cyborg swore off fighting lighter than 145 pounds after two trips to 140 pounds.

Cyborg returned to the octagon in July at UFC 214 and claimed the featherweight title – left vacant by injured Germaine de Randamie – with a brutal beatdown of former Invicta FC bantamweight champ Tonya Evinger. At the event, Cyborg spoke of turning over a new leaf with the industry-leader.

The 32-year-old Brazilian frequently has disagreed with the UFC’s promotional strategy and publicly bashed it. After several flareups, White admitted in June that the promotion had erred in its treatment. He resolved to give Cyborg a title shot at featherweight. On the eve of that fight, Cyborg was encouraged but said there were some actions that couldn’t be taken back.

It’s not hard to discern when something is wrong with the relationship. When Cyborg is unhappy or wants to make a point, her preferred method of communication is Twitter, where she never hesitates to fire back at a perceived slight. As recently as this past week, she touted the ratings generated by one of her UFC fights.

A face-to-face meeting between the champ’s team and White was scheduled for this past Thursday. It was canceled, but Prajin said the meeting could be rescheduled for this week. He said the fact that both sides are regularly communicating is a good sign.

“In negotiations, emotions run high,” he said. “There’s a lot of flexing on both sides. Everybody wants to get the best deal. We know her value, and the UFC obviously values her, as well. We’re just trying to make sure we come to an agreement on a mutual understanding of that.”

For more on UFC 219, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Featured, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Sports Illustrated ranks top 50 fittest athletes, and Conor McGregor somehow beats Demetrious Johnson

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Have you ever wondered who the world’s fittest athletes are, and wished someone would rank them?

We haven’t really, either. But for all the sports junkies who love a good pound-for-pound argument, Sports Illustrated has put out lists of the world’s top 50 fittest athletes.

The list is dominated by NFL, NBA and MLB stars. But five current MMA stars – Conor McGregor, Demetrious Johnson, Cris Cyborg, Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Holly Holm, as well as future MMA fighter Kayla Harrison – managed to make the cut. You just have to wonder what the rankings committee was thinking when they ordered them.

SI said the list was created based on “many factors, including physical benchmarks such as strength, speed, endurance, agility, flexibility and power, and performances in the last 12 months.”

So, did they steal Cyborg’s training journal? Did they look at the numbers on the plates in Johnson’s gym session, or time his charges across the cage? MMA doesn’t exactly lend itself to the measurements that make such a big difference in other sports. The most important ones keep track of how many times you’ve punched, kicked, or choked your opponent.

When you look at where Conor McGregor ended up, it’s even more of a head-scratcher. If athletes were judged on their performances over the past 12 months, how can you give the UFC lightweight champ the No. 9 slot for running out of gas against Floyd Mayweather, while you give Johnson the No. 15 spot for a five-round triumph over the tough Tim Elliott and a blowout of Wilson Reis?

If popularity is a measure, then it’s no wonder McGregor sits atop the MMA heap. Then again, this is just the type of engagement SI is looking for when it puts out these lists. So kudos – you got us again.

Take a look for yourself, and feel free to vent in the comments section. Here are the MMA fighters who made the cut, along with the overall top five women and men on their respective lists:

WOMEN’S MOST FIT

  • 30. Kayla Harrison, Olympic judoka expected to make 2018 MMA debut
  • 26. Cris Cyborg, UFC women’s featherweight champion
  • 22. Karolina Kowalkiewicz, onetime UFC women’s strawweight title challenger
  • 12. Holly Holm, former UFC women’s bantamweight champion
  • 5. Tia-Clair Toomey, crossfit
  • 4. Maggie Steffens, water polo
  • 3. Katie Ledecky, swimming
  • 2. Allyson Felix, track and field
  • 1. Simone Biles, gymnastics

MEN’S MOST FIT

  • 15. Demetrious Johnson, UFC flyweight champion
  • 9. Conor McGregor, UFC lightweight champion
  • 5. James Harrison, football
  • 4. Matt Fraser, crossfit
  • 3. Roger Federer, tennis
  • 2. LeBron James, basketball
  • 1. Cristiano Ronaldo, soccer

For more on the upcoming MMA schedule, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured Videos, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Holly Holm: 'Far more technical' Valentina Shevchenko will beat Amanda Nunes at UFC 215

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Former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm has made her pick for the UFC 215 main event, and she believes a new champion will be crowned.

Saturday’s UFC 215 headliner, which takes place at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass, sees reigning women’s 135-pound champion Amanda Nunes (14-4 MMA, 7-1 UFC) take on Valentina Shevchenko (14-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC).

Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) knows what it’s like to share the octagon with Shevchenko after suffering a unanimous-decision loss to “Bullet” at UFC on FOX 20 in July 2016. Holm has no firsthand experience against Nunes, but she said her encounter with Shevchenko is enough to allow her to confidently make a pick.

“I think Amanda Nunes is a very tough girl; Valentina is far more technical,” Holm told MMAjunkie. “I think everyone knows Amanda likes power shots, and Shevchenko is a lot more technical. I think Shevchenko can take the belt away.”

Holm, No. 10 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA women’s bantamweight rankings, said she’s not discounting No. 1-ranked Nunes’ chances against No. 2-ranked Shevchenko because the Brazilian, of course, won their first meeting at UFC 196 in March 2016. However, given the matchup, Holm said the most likely outcome of the fight is a title-winning victory for the challenger.

“Anything can happen in a fight,” Holm said. “Don’t get me wrong, but I think Shevchenko can do it.”

For more on UFC 215, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Holly Holm ready to fight 'beatable' UFC champ Cris Cyborg … if the terms are right

Holly Holm is ready and willing to fight UFC featherweight champion Cris Cyborg as soon as possible – she just wants to make sure all the terms are correct, specifically when it comes to financial compensation.

There are many fighters unwilling to face Cyborg (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC), who has been one of the most dominant figures in the sport over her more than 12-year undefeated run. Ex-champ Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) is not only of them, but she knows a bout the magnitude of one against the Brazilian is worthy of a significant deal.

“I don’t get too nitpicky with a lot of stuff,” Holm told MMAjunkie. “I don’t want to be a whiny fighter. She better make weight, I’ll tell you that. I do feel like the compensation should be a lot more, based on the fact it’s the biggest girls fight anyone can have right now; that’s my reasoning. I feel like we should be compensated for it. That has nothing else to do with anything else other than it’s just a factual thing. That has nothing to do with the drama or anything else.”

Holm is coming off a third-round knockout of Bethe Correia at UFC Fight Night 111. The victory snapped a three-fight losing skid for the former women’s 135-pound titleholder, one of which included a unanimous decision defeat to Germaine de Randamie for the inaugural women’s featherweight belt at UFC 208 in February.

Cyborg, meanwhile, claimed the vacant 145-pound belt that was stripped from de Randamie when she defeated Tonya Evinger by third-round TKO at UFC 214 in July. There was immediate talk of a bout with Holm afterward, and UFC President Dana White said “The Preacher’s Daughter” was interested in the fight at the UFC 214 post-fight press conference.

Holm said she’s not going to wait forever for it to happen, though.

“It’s a big possibility,” Holm said. “There’s been a couple times we’ve talked about it before. We’ve talked about a catchweight which he didn’t want to do. That was before they opened the 145-pound division. … If the fight with Cyborg is offered, then I’m going to sign it. If not, then whoever they give me. I don’t want my career to be defined by one fight. Everyone was talking about the Ronda (Rousey) fight, and then what? There’s still a whole career that’s always still out there. I’m not going to sit around waiting for one. If the opportunity comes, then that’s great.”

One of the sticking points for most fighters when it comes to Cyborg is a concern about her history with drug testing. She flunked a test in December 2011 while competing under the now-defunct Strikeforce organization and also had a brief hiccup with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in December, a case where she was later cleared of any wrongdoing.

Holm has historically taken a hard stance against performance-enhancing drugs, but she said Cyborg’s past isn’t of great concern.

“A lot of the girls have their reason to not really want to fight her,” Holm said. “She got the violation before (in 2011). I don’t know. My thing is: I don’t want to touch it. I don’t want to have any enhancers. I just want to know if I got somewhere, it was from hard work. That, in turn, keeps me more mentally strong. Whatever other people do is their own thing. It should definitely be a clean sport. She says she’s clean now, but no matter what I’m capable of winning that fight off of hard work. I’m still open to fighting her no matter what.”

Cyborg has addressed a potential fight with Holm many times on social media since UFC 214. She said she wants the matchup to take place at the year-end UFC 219 event in December, but has also accused Holm of using her name to raise her profile and receive greater compensation. Holm said she’s not interested in engaging in a war of words.

“I don’t really care what Cyborg says,” Holm said. “She’s had a lot to say lately. I don’t really look into it. I’m just waiting to have a contract sent to me. That’s when the fight’s on, and I’m going to train hard. I’m not into saying who is trying to use who’s name or all this other BS stuff. I don’t get into it.”

With the fullest expectations that her next trip to the octagon will be for an encounter with Cyborg, Holm said she has the utmost confidence she can be the one to snap Cyborg’s incredible 19-fight unbeaten streak.

“I think anybody has a game plan that can be used against them and some kind of weakness,” Holm said. “I can take her out of her element, out of her game. She’s definitely beatable. I’m not going to sit here and say she was impressive or not impressive in her last fight. Styles make a difference and that was a different fight and our fight would be something completely different. I’m ready for it.”

For more on the upcoming UFC schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Holly Holm? Cat Zingano? Another challenger? UFC champ Cris Cyborg wonders who's next

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RIO DE JANEIRO – After a tumultuous start, longtime pound-for-pound force Cris Cyborg finally has a UFC title belt – most importantly, one in her own weight division.

However, she had barely cooled off from her title-winning third-round TKO over Tonya Evinger at UFC 214 before the question was asked once more: What’s next for the world’s most dominant female 145-pound fighter? Or, more specifically, who could be next in a division that’s been surrounded by uncertainty from the start?

Cyborg can’t answer that question yet. What she can answer, though, is what she wants to happen. And, as she’s made clear before, that’s a fight with former 135-pound titleholder – and one of the two original 145-pound title challengers – Holly Holm.

The main reason, Cyborg explains, is pretty simple.

“I think it would be a great fight for the fans,” Justino said during a media day in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday. “It’d be an exciting fight. Because Holly Holm is a great striker, and I like to strike. And then for sure somebody’s going to be KO’d.”

Stylistically, she has a point.

While Cyborg’s powerful muay Thai has become her trademark throughout her overwhelmingly victorious career, Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC), is a well accomplished boxer in the past. Not only that, Holm has used a smart kickboxing game to pick up a pair of UFC knockouts – including the major title-winning victory over Ronda Rousey.

But when it comes to whether Holm actually deserves a title shot, things get more complicated. After all, while the ex-135-champ is coming off a win, a TKO over Bethe Correia at UFC Fight Night 111, she was on a three-fight losing skid before that. And that includes a failed 145-pound title bid.

Cyborg (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) can kind of see why a title fight makes sense.

“When she fought the first time, she already didn’t deserve to fight for the belt,” Cyborg said. “When she fought (Germaine) de Randamie, I don’t think both deserved to fight for the belt. De Randamie hadn’t fought at 145 for a long time. I think last time was at Strikeforce, a long time ago.

“And then Holly, she came off (two) losses in a row to fight for the belt. But I talk about her because I think she’s the biggest girl at 135. And then she fought already at 145. And maybe this fight could happen.”

At the end of the day, in a weight class that at this point holds basically only herself, it’s not like Justino has a lot of options. The women’s featherweight division’s inaugural champion, de Randamie, was even stripped of her title exactly because she refused to face Cyborg after beating Holm at UFC 208.

Invicta FC’s most recent 145-pound champ, Megan Anderson, had to pull out of a scheduled bout with Cyborg due to personal issues that haven’t been disclosed. Evinger herself is a 135-pound fighter, who left Invicta FC’s bantamweight belt behind to take the UFC 214 call on short notice.

While Cyborg is diplomatic, she admits she’s not exactly excited about the lack of options in her division.

“It bothers me,” Cyborg said in her native Portuguese. “I wish the UFC would sign girls in my division. I didn’t want to fight 135-ers. I talk about Holly because she’s one of the bigger ones in the division, and she’s fought at 145 against de Randamie. And I think she could take the fight.

“But I’d like to fight girls in my division. I believe there are many girls. They’re signed under other promotions, but I believe that, if there were more opportunities in the division, I’d think for sure they’d want to migrate. The UFC is a great (promotion) and for sure there’ll be more opportunities.”

While that doesn’t happen, Cyborg says she’s already going into camp to prepare for her next challenge. Other than Holm, she sees possibilities in Anderson (9-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC), who she believes rankings-wise makes sense – and Cat Zingano (9-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC), who the Brazilian says won’t be medically cleared to fight until 2018.

“Maybe it can be Megan Anderson, but Megan has to fix her problems for the fight to happen,” Cyborg said. “Can be her, too. I’m going to Thailand to focus on training (for a) southpaw and get started on the camp. People say maybe Cat Zingano – Cat Zingano is a southpaw, too.

“So, we started the plan already for both girls. If it changes, we change the game. But we already started camp for that fight.”

Zingano, of course, also originally belongs to the 135-pound division – where she’s had one failed title bid against Rousey. And, as Cyborg has pointed out, she hasn’t won a UFC fight since 2014. But, with the two already at odds on social media, perhaps the very interest she’s shown in meeting Cyborg could end up paying off.

When it comes to her main target, however, Cyborg says the ball is pretty much in Holm’s court. And she believes the former champion may very well be waiting for the 135-pound title rematch between champ Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko – set for Sept. 9 at UFC 215 – to unfold before making her next move.

“I think that maybe makes (our) fight harder to happen, because she’s close to the belt,” Justino said. “Maybe if she wins and fights for the belt, she’s interested in fighting me. I think it will be a cool fight for the fans, but it’s up to her whether she wants to make it happen.”

If the fight does end up coming to fruition, Justino doesn’t seem particularly intimidated by what her possible foe might have to offer.

“I think Holly doesn’t have knockout power,” Justino said. “All her fights, she knocks them out with kicks – not punches. I don’t think she’s very aggressive. I don’t think she’s going to be really dangerous. I think it will be an exciting fight, because I like to fight. And, of course, I’m going to find her. She’s going to run in the ring, but I’m going to find her.”

To hear more from Cyborg on her future, check out the video above.

And for more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Coach: 'No doubt' that Holly Holm can pick apart and beat UFC champ 'Cyborg'

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Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured Videos, News, UFC

Newly crowned UFC women’s featherweight champion Cristiane Justino has been an unbeatable MMA force over the past 12 years, but Holly Holm’s coach think she’s “definitely beatable.”

According to veteran coach Mike Winkeljohn, Holm, a former women’s bantamweight champion, can “pick apart” the famed “Cyborg” – and “there’s no doubt about that.”

As Winkeljohn told Submission Radio, Justino vs. Holm is a real possibility – and he likes the former pro boxing titleholder’s chances against “Cyborg”:

This past month at UFC 214, Justino (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) finally claimed a UFC belt with a third-round TKO win over Tonya Evinger (19-6 MMA, 0-1 UFC). It was a dominant performance, but Winkeljohn wasn’t totally convinced.

“There’s no doubt there’s some holes in there and she’s definitely beatable,” he said of Justino.

After the title win, UFC President Dana White mentioned the possibility of Justino vs. Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC), who recently halted a three-fight skid (which included title losses to bantamweight and featherweight) with a head-kick knockout of bantamweight Bethe Correia.

“It seems like she’s interested,” White said of Justino. “I like Holly vs. ‘Cyborg.’ I think it’s a good fight.”

After the victory – the 18th straight in her career – Justino said she’s open to all challengers, including Holm (watch the video above).

As for Winkeljohn, he said Holm could be game and that she “will never turn down a fight.” However, she’ll need time to put back on a suitable amount of weight to fight at 145 pounds, and the money has to be right. And if that’s all worked out? As he told Submission Radio:

“I think Holly can pick her apart. There’s no doubt about that. What people don’t understand is how strong Holly is too in the clinch, on her feet and moving and stuff. Cris is definitely going to try to do most of her damage by pushing her back against the cage. You know, good luck keeping Holly there and backing her up, coming in that hard.

“But yeah, Cris is really strong, but I think Holly wears her down and is able to stop her. You look at Holly’s knockout percentage, I think her and Amanda Nunes are the biggest out there. She stops all of her fights, everybody else other than ‘Cyborg.’ So Holly has the power to stop ‘Cyborg’ just like ‘Cyborg’ has the power. The difference is Holly’s got speed and her footwork.”

Who do you like in the potential matchup? Cast your vote below.

And for more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Featherweight champ 'Cyborg' Justino calls for UFC 219 fight with ex-135 champ Holly Holm

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

Cristiane Justino never has been shy about using her social media to let people know what – or who – is on her mind. Fresh off her title-winning UFC 214 display, that is currently Holly Holm.

Justino (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC), who most recently capped off yet another demolition with a third-round TKO over former Invicta FC bantamweight titleholder Tonya Evinger to earn the UFC’s vacant 145-pound belt, has always been clear about her interest in meeting Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC). Tuesday, however, she took to Twitter and Instagram to add a time and place to her challenge.

Calling for an 145-pound title affair at UFC 219, which is expected to take place at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena on Dec. 30, the champ also cited a few failed attempts of negotiating a meeting with the UFC’s former 135-pound titleholder.

“I want my next fight to be the biggest fight I can make for the fans who have supported me my entire career,” Justino said in one of two Instagram posts featuring the former champion. “I want to face Holly Holm in Vegas. Let the UFC know this is a PPV you will buy.”

Instagram Photo

“Before Holly signed with the UFC her management teased of an independent PPV one day between #TeamCyborg and #TeamHolm. When we both signed to the @UFC I tried to negotiate a fight as the Co-Main against Holly Holm the night Ronda fought Cat Zingano in LA. Holly fought Raquel Pennington instead, while I fought for @invictafc the night before. At #ufc198 I requested Holly, and then again when I was the main event on @fs1 for #ufcfn95. Holly won easily in Singapore, and Megan Anderson was forced to withdrawal my team again requested Holm for #ufc214. #CyborgNation has been very loud online since #ufc214 and wants #CyborgVHolm I want my next fight to be the biggest fight I can make for the fans who have supported me my entire career. #ufc219 I want to face Holly Holm in Vegas. Let the @UFCknow this is a PPV you will buy!”

While Holm has yet to respond publicly, UFC President Dana White did say right after Justino’s dominant UFC 214 win that both he and, apparently, the ex-champ herself were interested in the matchup.

Justino is so determined to make the encounter happen that she has changed her Twitter user name, which now reads “#UFC219 CyborgVHolm.” This is not the first time the Brazilian featherweight has used her social media to leverage bouts – and if it comes to fruition, it wouldn’t be the first successful one either.

After a heavy push, Justino got an encounter with the successor to her Invicta FC featherweight throne: Megan Anderson. The Aussie, however, had to pull out of the bout – which Evinger ultimately took on. Justino and Evinger fought for the belt that the division’s inaugural champ, Germaine de Randamie, was stripped of after refusing to fight logical contender “Cyborg.”

Justino has now fought three times under the UFC banner, although only the most recent one took place in her original 145-pound division. For her first two outings, she made a catchweight limit of 140 pounds before easily beating Leslie Smith and Lina Lansberg.

The fight would be Holm’s second stab at the 145-pound title, after dropping a controversial decision to De Randamie at UFC 208. Holm, who shocked the world by beating then-dominant champ Ronda Rousey to earn the UFC’s women’s bantamweight belt, is coming off a knockout over former title challenger Bethe Correia. The win snapped a three-fight skid.

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Sean Shelby's Shoes: What's next for Jon Jones and UFC 214's other winning fighters?

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

The most significant UFC pay-per-view event of 2017 took place Saturday with UFC 214 at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.

In the main event, Jon Jones (23-1 MMA, 17-1 UFC) reclaimed the light-heavyweight championship with a third-round knockout of rival Daniel Cormier (19-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC), completing one of the most tumultuous comeback stories in UFC history.

Additionally, Tyron Woodley (18-3-1 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC) defended the welterweight belt while Cristiane Justino (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) won the vacant women’s featherweight title.

Other winners included ex-UFC champ Robbie Lawler (28-11 MMA, 13-5 UFC) and rising 205-pound contender Volkan Oezdemir (15-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC).

After every event, fans wonder whom the winners will be matched up with next. And with another night of UFC action in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward, put on a pair of Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard’s shoes, and play UFC matchmaker for UFC 214’s winning fighters.

* * * *

Volkan Oezdemir

Mauricio Rua

Should fight: Winner of Mauricio Rua vs. Ovince Saint Preux at UFC Fight Night 117
Why they should fight: Oezdemir’s arrival as a light-heavyweight contender reached another high when he put away Jimi Manuwa in just 42 seconds, marking his third consecutive win since his UFC debut less than five months ago.

Oezdemir still had questions around him after winning his first two UFC appearances in unexpected fashion, but there’s no doubting his legitimacy after he stopped Manuwa quicker than the likes of former 205-pound title challengers Alexander Gustafsson and Anthony Johnson.

In many cases, Oezdemir’s body of work would be enough for a title shot. Unfortunately, he’s in a division ruled by Jones, who’s seeking big-fight opportunities that Oezdemir simply doesn’t currently provide. That means he’s going to have to take another fight to further strengthen his case and get the champ’s attention.

Fighting the winner of September’s UFC Fight Night 117 main event between “Shogun” Rua (25-10 MMA, 9-8 UFC) and Saint Preux (20-10 MMA, 8-5 UFC) could be his avenue. Oezdemir beat “OSP” by split decision in his UFC debut earlier this year, but it was a short-notice fight. If Saint Preux wins, it may not make the most sense to rematch, but the thin nature of the 205-pound division may not give him any other option.

The best case scenario for Oezdemir is a Rua victory. The former UFC champ would be on a four-fight UFC winning streak if he beats Saint Preux, and while the Brazilian isn’t the same fighter he was in his glory days, he would still be a signature win for Oezdemir.

Robbie Lawler

Tyron Woodley

Should fight: Woodley
Why they should fight: Although he’s just one fight removed from losing the UFC welterweight title to Woodley at UFC 201 in July 2016, Lawler appears he could slide back into another title fight after his unanimous-decision win over Donald Cerrone.

Lawler vs. Cerrone was one of the most anticipated fights of the year, and for the most part, it lived up to the hype. “Ruthless” proved he’s still one of the best at 170 pounds when he went toe-to-toe with Cerrone and came out on top.

Although one win is arguably not enough to get another title shot, Lawler benefits from the fact the weight class is currently thin on worthy challengers. Most of the top-ranked fighters are coming off of losses, and the nature of Woodley’s fights since winning the belt from Lawler opens the door for a rematch.

If the first fight is any indication, Woodley is an awful style matchup for Lawler. But at the very least, it seems likely he would bring an entertaining fight out of the champ. Woodley has severely lacked that in his past two title defenses, and that’s to Lawler’s benefit in his quest to regain the gold.

Jon Jones, Tyron Woodley, Cristiane Justino

Should fight: Watch the video above to see why Jones should fight Alexander Gustafsson (18-4 MMA, 10-4 UFC), Woodley should fight Lawler, and “Cyborg” should fight Holly Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) after their UFC 214 title-fight victories.

For more on UFC 214, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Dana White likes new champ 'Cyborg' Justino vs. Holly Holm – who 'seems like she's interested'

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ANAHEIM, Calif. – A megafight between Cristiane Justino and Holly Holm could be on the horizon after “Cyborg” claimed the UFC women’s featherweight championship Saturday at UFC 214.

Justino’s (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) long and tumultuous journey to UFC gold came to an end in the pay-per-view bout at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., when she steamrolled Tonya Evinger (19-6 MMA, 0-1 UFC) for a third-round TKO to win the 145-pound belt.

Holly Holm

The biggest problem throughout Justino’s career has been finding opponents willing to fight her. Former women’s bantamweight titleholder Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) has said she would be willing to fight Justino under the right circumstances. According to UFC President Dana White, now could be the time.

“I was just talking to Holly Holm back there,” White said at the UFC 214 post-fight news conference. “(I said,) ‘What do you think?’ It seems like she’s interested. I like Holly vs. Cyborg. I think it’s a good fight.”

Justino on Saturday won the vacant title, which was stripped from Germaine de Randamie earlier this year. De Randamie won the belt with a unanimous decision win over Holm at UFC 208 in February, but her time as champion was nothing but problematic. With “Cyborg,” arguably the top pound-for-pound female fighter in MMA history, now atop the throne, the UFC has a champion willing to take on all comers.

White said he was impressed with what Justino had to offer at UFC 214, even if it was a more well-composed and technical performance than what she’s presented in the past.

“I think Cyborg looked good,” White said. “She was very composed. She didn’t go crazy. She took her time, picked her shots, and I think she looked good.”

For complete coverage of UFC 214, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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'Cyborg' Justino on standing her ground, filling Ronda Rousey void, Evinger, Magana and Holm

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

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Cristiane Justino is finally about to get her stab at the belt of a UFC division that she was basically responsible for creating.

But the road to get here was anything but smooth.

First, many wondered if the former Invicta FC featherweight champ would ever make it into the UFC octagon at all. That happened, but it took compromise – she’d have to make a tough 140-pound catchweight limit.  Twice. All the while, Justino made her weight struggles known. She spoke up about the UFC’s failure in promoting her. And she pushed for the creation of her own division.

“Cyborg” once again got her wish, but even that took a weird turn. When she was unable to make the turnaround that the promotion had in mind for its initial title fight, she was left out of it. All the while, UFC President Dana White made his difficulties in dealing with the Brazilian fighter clear. And she always fired back.

On July 29, at UFC 214, Justino (17-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) finally gets her UFC title shot when she meets Invicta FC bantamweight champ Tonya Evinger (19-5 MMA, 0-0 UFC) for the vacant 145-pound belt. White has already admitted to a lot of wrongdoing when it comes to the long-reigning featherweight queen. And, at least for now, the two seem to have come to somewhat of a truce.

Through it all, was the vocal “Cyborg” ever afraid her willingness to speak up would hinder her career?

It doesn’t seem like it.

“I can’t be just another one in the UFC,” Justino said on Tuesday. “If I say amen to everything people say, I’ll be just another one. And I never wanted to be just another one. I want to make a difference. I want to improve this sport. I want to be remembered by the other athletes not only as the world champion, but as someone who made a difference.

“I try to fight for improvements for fighters, the same way I fought for women to have more divisions. I’ll keep fighting whenever I think something’s wrong, even if it might hurt me. I’m in there to make a difference. I’m not there just for status. Giving things to me just to keep me quiet? No, I believe that doesn’t corrupt me.

“I believe in making the sport better. I’m an athlete, and I know that I won’t fight forever. One day I won’t fight anymore, and what happens after that? I have to make things better for the athletes who come after me.”

UFC 214, which features three title fights, takes place at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FXX and UFC Fight Pass.

Ahead of the bout, Justino spoke to Brazilian reporters about numerous topics. One part of the chat, in which she addresses the rocky division, original UFC 214 opponent Megan Anderson and ex-champ Germaine De Randamie, can be checked out here.

For additional thoughts on filling the void left by former champion Ronda Rousey (12-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC), the matchup with Evinger and a possible scrap with ex-champ Holly Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC), as well as a (very) brief update on the situation with Angela Magana (11-8 MMA, 0-2 UFC), check out the translation below.

* * * *

With Ronda Rousey out of the picture, do you think a title win at UFC 214 would solidify your as the face of women’s MMA?

Justino: I believe women’s MMA can’t be about a single face. There are many athletes in the UFC. What happened was, they made Ronda the face of MMA, and when she lost, which she did twice, she didn’t want to come back. It’s about all the women who are in there, not just a face. When you make it about one face and the person leaves, you miss that. When I carry my belt, I’ll be representing all women. The same way women in the UFC are representing all women in MMA. I think it’s bad when you make MMA about one face. MMA is about all women.

Any updates on the legal situation after you “attacked” Angela Magana at the 2017 UFC athlete summit?

Justino: She attacked me, as well. There are many types of attacks. My lawyer is handling it. I have nothing to say. When I have more information, I’ll share with you. But my lawyer is handling it.

Thoughts on Evinger saying she’s your toughest challenge yet?

Justino: I think she’s been showing a lot of courage for taking this fight on short notice. She’s a great opponent. She has many fights. She’s experienced. I believe she’ll be more work than Megan Anderson (because she’s had) more time in the cage. Let’s see. Things are different in the octagon. Everyone has a plan going in there, but after the first punch that changes.

Considering Evinger is coming in from a lighter division, do you agree that you’re the favorite coming into the fight?

Justino: I believe Tonya taking this fight saved us. It was last minute, a month before. It was very irresponsible of Megan Anderson to accept the fight and not have the documents in order to fight. Thankfully, Tonya Evinger accepted it. I believe you have to respect your opponent, and a fight is a fight. You can’t judge it before it happens. You have to be ready for whatever may happen. Whenever someone goes in the octagon with me, I never see it as an easy fight. I see that I need to be prepared for five rounds. The win or the loss will be God’s will. I just need to give it my best in there.

Who might be next after Evinger?

Justino: Since Holly Holm fought for the 145-pound belt, I believe it’d be a good fight. The fans would like it. She’s a striker. She likes standup. I like standup. Why not? It could be my next fight. I know she’s up there for the 135-pound belt. Maybe if she fights for it, or wins the belt – though I believe it stays with Amanda (Nunes, current UFC bantamweight champ). If that opportunity comes up, it’s a fight that I think all fans would like to watch. Who knows?

Do you think there is such a thing as fighters being scared of certain fights or opponents?

Justino: I believe some athletes are scared. But they have to work on that. Athletes can’t be scared. Scared of what? Losing? Anyone can lose. Some days you win, and some days you lose. We’re in a sport in which it’s impossible for both fighters to come out victorious. You need to give it your best, train and leave it in God’s hands. It’s insecurity. But losing is not the end of the world. It happens to everyone, naturally. But you have to be prepared to give it your best. If the other person is better that day, they’re going to win. If you’re a fighter, you can’t lose – you can lose a battle, and not the war. You need to keep going. That’s what the fans like: overcoming. Getting back out there and winning again. That’s what makes athletes grow, and that’s what makes the fans follow you – overcoming adversity.

Your contract with the update has been reported to expire in October. Do you have any plans when it comes to that? Do you feel that, with that deadline approaching, there’s more pressure on your next fight?

Justino: I’m thinking about this fight now. If I’m happy, I’ll keep working with them. There’s no reason why I wouldn’t. (But) as far as my opponent goes, I don’t think there’s pressure. I need to be ready to fight at my best. And I always leave it in God’s hands. If His plan is for me to win the belt and the fight, I’ll win. If that’s not His plan, it’s OK. I’m prepared. I don’t see it as added pressure on me. I see myself as the champ. I’ll defend my belt. But there’s no pressure. I have to train, to be ready, give it my best inside the octagon and leave the win in God’s hands.

You’re already looking slimmer on social media this time. How’s the weight coming along?

Justino: I think these three years I’ve been cutting to make the (140-pound) catchweight helped a little in staying lighter. It made it easier for my (145-pound) division. It’s not easy, but I believe I’ve been getting better with my diet every day. I’ve learned a lot in these three years of dieting. Now it’s a lot more professional. I’m very happy with the results. I’m working and training well, training happy. My last weight cuts, of course, were a good opportunity for me to showcase my work. But I wasn’t going into training happy. The people in my camp are a lot happier that I’m in my division now. I’m happy in training, I’m eating a little more. And I’m enjoying it more. I love my job, so going to the gym (while I’m) happy is a different vibe.

Despite the weight difficulties, would you ever consider trying for a two-division championship?

Justino: Only if they open my division at 155 pounds (laughs).

For more on UFC 214, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie