On Friday it was reported that Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino and Cat Zingano would be fighting at UFC 214 in July. According to UFC President Dana White, those reports are untrue, mostly.
The picture painted on the UFC’s 145-pound canvas remains bleak.
Speaking to assembled media over the weekend, Dana White responded to reports from Brazilian outlet Combate that Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino would be fighting Cat Zingano at UFC 214 in July.
“That’s not true,” said White. “That’s what we’re working on, but it’s not true. It’s not even close to being done. I don’t even know if Zingano can fight right now, but it’s something we’re talking about.”
Zingano has not fought since a disappointing defeat to bantamweight contender Julianna Pena at UFC 200 in July last year. A number of bouts have been rumoured since, but none have come to fruition.
The fighter has been clear about her future status, seen regularly posting training footage on her social media profiles and insisting she has her eyes set on rebounding from consecutive losses to Pena and Ronda Rousey.
As for Cyborg, one way or another she will be fighting in the Summer. The opponent remains a question mark at this point.
The Brazilian had previously insisted a fight with current UFC featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie would be a part of the UFC 214 card. Cyborg has also said she welcomes the challenge of Australian Invicta FC champion Megan Anderson.
Cyborg has not fought since a September 2016 win over Lina Lansberg. The long-time featherweight number one was briefly suspended by USADA for a violation of the UFC’s anti-doping policy following a positive test for spironolactone. The fighter has since been granted a retroactive therapeutic use exemption and is eligible to compete. If Cyborg has her way, that will be for a version, interim or otherwise, of the UFC’s featherweight title.
Speaking again with the media over fight weekend, White promised answers soon regarding de Randamie’s future as champion but implied that she would not be facing Cyborg or defending the title anytime soon.
“I think we’re gonna come out with something soon about that,” said White when asked about the future of the featherweight champion. He was, however, clear about when we would see Cyborg back in the cage.
“Cyborg will fight this Summer” stated White, although he did not sound optimistic about Megan Anderson’s chances of being the opponent. Once again it was Zingano’s name that was mentioned.
Whether an opponent can be finalised or not, Cyborg’s contract with the UFC is up in October of this year. The Brazilian’s team have spoken openly through her social media profiles regarding their belief that the UFC have not promoted the 31-year-old as best they could.
At the very least it would seem that negotiations with rival promotion Bellator MMA would be entertained once Cyborg becomes a free agent.
Bellator currently has half of the featherweight top ten under contract and a legitimate champion in place.
Julia Budd had long been ranked in the top three of the division before she defeated then-ranked number two Marloes Coenen at Bellator 174 to become the promotion’s inaugural women’s featherweight champion.
The promotion has not signed a single featherweight since announcing the formation of their division earlier this year, meanwhile, Bellator continues to snap up available talent at 145 pounds. In recent weeks top 10 fighter Amanda Bell and hot prospect Amber Leibrock have penned deals with the promotion.
While Bellator has created a division, the UFC have done nothing more than add another title belt as a promotional tool. There is a stark difference.
Now Cyborg remains the final piece of the puzzle. If Bellator were able to prise her away from the UFC’s clutches that would legitimise their women’s featherweight division to a point where nothing the promotion could do would usurp it.
Potentially, that could even leave the UFC scrapping the championship altogether if de Randamie were to vacate it as has been rumoured. Not least because they have now focused on the much deeper 125-pound division for their upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter.
More than that, these moves would also force the division’s breakout star and one of the hottest commodities outside of the big two promotions right now — Megan Anderson — to follow. Anderson cannot, and should not, make 135 pounds and has actively campaigned for a fight with Cyborg at 145.
So while Dana White seems far from sold on the idea of making the most obvious featherweight bout the UFC could right now, perhaps we will get to see Cyborg vs. Anderson after all.
We might just need Scott Coker to step in and promote it.