Just hours after she made a successful first defence of her UFC women’s featherweight title against Holly Holm at UFC 219, Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino was the victim of a rather surprising social media attack at the hands of an official representative of the JacksonWink fight team, of which her opponent Holly Holm is a part.
The powerful Justino overcame Holm via decision after five gripping rounds on Saturday night in Las Vegas, with all three judges scoring the bout in the Brazilian’s favour. The cards read 49-46, 48-47, and 48-47. There did not seem to be any ill will between the fighters or their camps after the battle ceased. In fact, there were hugs and handshakes all around, and Cyborg was quick to give credit to Holm in her post-fight interview with Joe Rogan.
“I want to say thank you for Holly Holm, she is an amazing fighter – she did really well here,” said Justino.
JacksonWink photographer and media director Mark Aragon was not so respectful toward Justino in the aftermath of the bout, however. Through his ma2_media Instagram account, Aragon took a shot at the fighter, referring to her as a “dude” and using masculine pronouns.
“This dude is tough as hell,” wrote Aragon alongside a photograph of ‘Cyborg’ at the presser. “That being said he did say at the press conference that Holly was the first one to make his nose bleed! You are my hero [Holly Holm]. See you back in the gym.”
The post rightly created a storm of criticism online and was subsequently deleted from the account.
On Sunday, however, Justino posted a screenshot of the pic and accompanying comments to her own Instagram account, alongside which she wrote a response.
“It is not acceptable for an official representative of [JacksonWink] to call me transgender following my fight,” wrote the fighter, before calling upon the UFC to refuse Aragon a media credential for future events. “Their official photographer was given a backstage credential to attend the [UFC] and I expect an apology or their ability to get credentials for future UFC events to be affected by these actions.”
Since Justino’s post, both JacksonWink and Aragon himself have also responded to the controversy. Both parties claimed that the attack was inspired by comments made by Justino and her team away from the cameras and microphones later on that night, but Aragon still issued an apology.
“In response to our media person’s recent Instagram remark about Cyborg, there is a backstory as to why he made his comment,” read a post on the JacksonWink Facebook page. “After Cyborg’s victory, she was heard backstage by our media guy calling Holly a “Bi#%h” and laughing at a photo depicting her own toe in Holly’s eye. They were heard mocking Holly’s performance. Our media guy was defensive of our fighter and space and he used Cyborg’s past history of steroid use, in a knee jerk, response. We were unaware of all the backstage talk and his response on a public forum until yesterday. He regrets putting JW in this position. We don’t condone putting others down. Congratulations to Cyborg and her team and we look forward to a rematch.”
“As the most hated photographer in the world today, I feel its necessary to comment on the recent fall out I’m causing for both Hollys and Cyborgs camps, and their respectful friends, fans, and families,” wrote Aragon on his own Facebook page. “At the conclusion of UFC 219, I took the final bus out of the arena back to the hotel and ended up on the same bus as Chris Cyborg(sic) and her team. As I sat in the back I began to hear them cheer and revel in their victory and discuss small parts of the event. A couple things really bothered me. I heard them laughing and commenting on a picture that renowned photographer Esther Lin took of Cyborgs toes literally in Hollys eye from a kick. Cyborg then went on to discuss how during clinches “the bitch” just “stayed and hugged her but she did nothing”. When I got back to the hotel I posted a picture with an inappropriate caption that everyone is now talking about. I was obviously acting out of anger and frustration. My personal emotions got in the way of my professional status which I failed to adhere to. But there is more to it, Cyborg leading up to the fight through her own Social Media accounts accused Holly and our camp of being the most drug failed camp ever. This is a totally fabricated lie and can’t be based on any merit whatsoever. Only one CURRENT athlete from our camp has ever been punished for USADA related issues and I was extremely frustrated with the perception that Cyborg and her fans had painted us as cheaters and losers. Jackson Wink had over 60 UFC fights throughout the world and hundreds of other fighters fighting all around the world at many different organizations. Every fighter has their home team based out of whatever country or state they hail from and come here for training, some of them with their own teams. We absolutely can’t be responsible for each and every one of their daily activities. That being said I am embarrassed by my actions and I sincerely apologize to [Cris Justino] and her friends, fans, and most importantly her family for posting such an ugly misrepresentation of a great hard earned championship retention. I also want to apologize to the members of team Jacksonwink who were effected by that insincere post.”
Underneath the JacksonWink post, ‘Cyborg’ commented once again and she didn’t seem satisfied with the apology.
“Your photographer was given media credentials under the assumption that he could remain professional in a work setting,” she wrote. “His transgender comments are not acceptable, and I should not be asked to work in an environment where sexual harassment is acceptable. My management has contacted Dana White and the UFC with my concerns, and moving forward I hope his media credentials are denied allowing a more professional photographer to take his place. If the ufc is to be treated like a real sport then this type of behavior(sic) can not be accepted. Imagine if your photographer was backstage at a WNBA finals and called the MVP of the playoffs a man…he would no longer be licensed to work their events. I expect the same support for a company I helped make millions for last night.”
Following her win on Saturday, Justino said that she would like to face Invicta FC featherweight champion Megan Anderson next, possibly in Australia, and didn’t count out a future match-up with countrywoman and UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes. A rematch with Holm at some point in the future isn’t completely out of the question either, however. The fight was a competitive one and some even felt that ‘The Preacher’s Daughter’ did enough to pip Justino. With a dearth of quality contenders, nay fighters of any kind, at 145lbs, Holm could easily receive another crack at the gold.