Cris Cyborg earned her 21st win in mixed martial arts over the weekend.
The MMA pioneer has finally got to prove herself on the grandest scale of them all over the past couple of years. But now there appears to be some uncertainty with her future.
She’s entering a weird territory known as “MMA Free Agency.” Often times, the UFC will have renewed a fighters contract before it runs out, but this time around Cyborg is testing the market.
So what could be next for the dominant 145 pounder? Let’s rank the possibilities.
Re-sign with the UFC
Probability – 60%
If you’re akin to social media, you may have seen the video surfacing post UFC 240 whereby Cyborg confronted UFC president Dana White. It appeared the altercation stemmed from text messages Cyborg had sent Dana regarding a rematch with featherweight champion Amanda Nunes. Cyborg suffered her first loss in how many years against Nunes in December of last year. There’s no doubt she’s keen for the rematch, but does it make sense for Nunes given how emphatic a win it was? Regardless, the UFC will want to resign Cyborg just to rid her becoming another promotions gain.
Sign with Bellator
Probability – 30%
If you’re talking about a pure sporting move – signing with Bellator is probably the smartest option left to Cyborg. Bellator have sneakily put together a pretty credible roster of 145 pound hopefuls with champion Julia Budd at the helm. Cyborg has never fought Budd, so testing herself against one of the better featherweights of the current generation will intrigue her. There’s also the option of fighting on cards in San Jose, not far from where she trains, and fighting her way through a roster of fighters she hasn’t faced before. Which, the same can’t be said about the UFC.
Sign with Rizin
Probablity – 7%
Did someone say Gabi Garcia superfight? No, maybe that was just the echo in the room. Anyways, an option available to Cyborg is to fight in Japan. There’s no doubt that Japanese MMA fans will take to Cyborg like a duck to water, given her larger than life presence and MMA skill set to back it up. Cyborg has never fought outside of the U.S. or Brazil, so it is no doubt some uncharted territory for her. She’s very fan focused, so building a base of followers in Asia may be an intriguing option for her. Rizin won’t be phased by bringing in fighters on one fight deals to showcase her, either.
Resign with Invicta
Probablity – 2%
It doesn’t make much sense for Cyborg to take a step backward at this stage of her career. Without a clear women’s featherweight division in the UFC, Cyborg found herself dominating the next best thing, Invicta FC. The all-women’s promotion stood to be an excellent platform for an eventual UFC move – given their close ties with the UFC and broadcasts on Fight Pass. There’s endless talent in all women’s divisions in Invicta, but most are vying for the exposure to fight in the UFC or Bellator, It would seem unlikely that Cyborg would want to re-enter that pre-UFC stage in her career.
Probability – 1%
We all know about MMA retirements. We see the gloves being taken off inside the cage, the heartfelt post-fight speech, the kids entering the fold and the tears roll down either cheek. It’s touching. One year later, they realise all they did with their life was train and fight, and they find themselves calling out an old foe. It’s what makes the sport of MMA what it is, really. There was no emotional goodbye for Cyborg in the cage on Saturday night, so the chances are even slimmer, and even if she did, I’d be hard pressed to believe it.