There seems to be no end to the drama surrounding Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino’s weight-cutting issues and her increasingly complex relationship with the UFC.
In September, the promotion came in for a great deal of criticism after ‘Cyborg’ revealed the extreme nature of the cut that she would have to endure to make the 140-pound catchweight limit for her UFC Fight Night 95 bout with Lina Lansberg.
“Today, I woke up at 165[lbs],” the Brazilian told Ariel Helwani on the Monday of fight week. In other words, she had just four days to drop 25lbs.
Many felt that it was ridiculous to force Justino to engage in such a dangerous activity in order to hit an arbitrary number – there is no 140-pound weight-class in the UFC after all.
Nonetheless, ‘Cyborg’ made the cut, for the second time in 2016, and beat Lansberg via second-round TKO.
During an episode of Submission Radio several weeks later though, the 31-year-old said that she would not attempt such a cut again unless a super-fight with former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey was on offer.
When she spoke to Peruvian media outlet El Comerico last week, Justino’s stance seemed to have hardened even further. The fighter claimed that if the UFC did not open a women’s featherweight division, the weight-class in which ‘Cyborg’ still holds the Invicta FC title, she would leave for another promotion.
“The main thing is that I have two fights left in my division. I’m going to stay in my division, and see if the UFC opens up my division, or if they don’t do it, I’m going to leave. I’ll keep fighting so that they open more divisions.
“If I don’t have a division in the UFC, I’m going to go to another company like Rizin or Bellator or another organization where they have my division.”
Interestingly, when he appeared on an episode of UFC Unfiltered this week, UFC president Dana White claimed that Justino had already been offered two separate fights at 145lbs and the opportunity to become the promotion’s first ever women’s featherweight champion.
What’s more, he added that ‘Cyborg’ had actually turned these offers down.
“What’s crazy about that is this: I offered Cris Cyborg a title fight at 145 pounds a month ago,” said White(via MMAFighting). “She had eight weeks to get ready for it, she said she couldn’t make the weight, said she couldn’t make 145 pounds.”
“So then I offered her another 145-pound title fight for Brooklyn (UFC 208), she turned it down. She turned down two 145-pound title fights. One because she said she couldn’t make 145 pounds in eight weeks, and Joe Silva’s like, ‘If she can’t make 145 pounds in eight weeks, 145 isn’t the right weight class for her either.’”
When she was approached for comment by MMAFighting, however, ‘Cyborg’ revealed that some very troubling health issues had arisen from her last cut to 140lbs. Thus, she had little choice but to turn down these fights, which White claimed were against former bantamweight champion Holly Holm and Germaine de Randamie.
“In my last weight cut I almost died,” began the jarring statement received by the SB Nation website. “I was in the bathtub cutting weight, and I thought, ‘I will die in this bathtub.’ It was the worst weight cut in my life. My nutritionist George Lockhart, who, by the way, is a UFC employee, didn’t do an effective job with this birth control pill he indicated saying that would help me. But thank God, in a war, I made weight, cutting 24 pounds in a week. My body was retaining a lot of water. The last time I spoke with George Lockhart was in the locker room before my fight. He disappeared after the fight. I’m not working with him anymore.
“For the first time I didn’t warm up in the locker room like I do for every fight because I was too weak. I was just praying for God and went for the fight, and, once again, God gave me the victory. After all this, I went back to my hometown on Sunday and I felt sick on Sunday. My mother gave me tea and I fell asleep. The next day, like I always do after my fights, I did blood tests to see if everything was okay after a terrible weight cut. And for the first time, the nurses couldn’t take my blood, it was so thick it wouldn’t come out, so we couldn’t do tests. I was in treatment for 10 days with Dr. Ulisseia. I was in observation because I was feeling sick all the time.
“You can see that I give no interviews after the fight. I told UFC Brazil PR Lilian (Caparroz) that I wanted to cancel all my interviews and couldn’t travel. After all that, at home, I decided I would not fight at this weight anymore, that I would only fight at my division. And only with 12 weeks’ notice. For my last fight, they told me eight weeks before.
“I got a call from the UFC offering me another catchweight fight, and I said I would not fight at this weight anymore. I needed a break to get my health back to normal because my body was weak, I was anemic.
“After that, they invited me to fight again, but this time at my weight and for the belt, but with 10 weeks’ notice. Knowing that I was recovering, like I said, I told them I can fight anyone in March, but I need to take care of my body, and no mention of the fact that I’m dealing with severe depression and can’t have another brutal weight cut like before. This decision is more important than the belt or the division, I’m thinking about my health.
“I thank my fans. We did it! I’ll soon be fighting in my division, where I’m the world champion. You and God are loyal. I’ll be ready to fight in March.”
With this statement, ‘Cyborg’ may well have kissed her chances of a fight with the aforementioned Rousey goodbye. After she publicly revealed such harrowing details about the toll that the last cut had on her body, UFC brass surely couldn’t be seen to encourage yet another.