Dear Cris,

Without question, you are one of the fiercest competitors in the sport today; regardless of gender. For the past decade, you have dominated your competition at featherweight, winning the Strikeforce and Invicta FC title along the way. But you need to realize one very important thing as you seek out a superfight with UFC women’s bantamweight Ronda Rousey, you have zero negotiating leverage.

Sure, having Rousey come up in weight to face you at featherweight or a 140 pound catch weight sounds ideal to you. But what incentive does Rousey have to move? Currently, she is one of the biggest stars – if not the biggest – the sport has ever seen, not to mention the champion in the world’s top promotion.

If and when the two of you actually do fight, you will not be the draw, Rousey will be. Fans from all over the world – including your native Brazil – love Rousey and they will be tuning in because of her. Who she fights really doesn’t matter. To the casual MMA fan, you are an obscure champion fighting in a lesser organization against much weaker competition. Everyone seems to think the women’s bantamweight division is this talentless wasteland that Rousey is ruling, but that’s not the case. Rousey is dominant because she is light years ahead of her competition. Overall, the competition at women’s bantamweight is much better than anything women’s featherweight has to offer.

Just look at your opponents’ career winning percentage. At .625 and with four wins over opponents with career losing records, it’s not like you have been facing a murders row of competition while Rousey has been feasting on the weak. In fact, Rousey’s opponents’ career winning percentage is .742 and she has never faced an opponent with a career losing record.

Then, there is the little matter of your failed PED test back in 2011. Granted that was nearly four years ago, but that little black mark will never go away. Just because you have passed tests recently, doesn’t absolve you from suspicion and it shouldn’t. Once someone willingly cheats and is caught, they have to live with the consequences. In this case, that means always having that black cloud of PED use over your head.

Just for that reason alone, your credibility and leverage in any superfight negotiations should go out the window. Don’t get me wrong here, we want to see you and Rousey compete, and sooner or later this fight will come together.

But you are going to have to make the concessions. You are going to have to prove you can cut the weight. You are going to have to jump through all of the hoops the UFC and Rousey put you through to make this fight happen.

Fans want this fight and they deserve to see it. But don’t confuse that with having the power to manipulate the matter.

Earnestly,

RJ Gardner

About The Author

RJ Gardner
Content Coordinator

RJ Gardner is a rabid sports fan and a long time MMA enthusiast. After watching UFC 1 at ripe old age of 11 RJ was hooked and his passion for the sport has continued to blossom over the years. RJ has been covering MMA since 2007 and has had work featured on Bleacher Report, SI.com, CBSSports.com and UFC.com. RJ is also a Petroleum Transportation Operations Manager during the day.

  • Ruben

    I think this article is misguided. Cyborg wants to fight the best fighters out there, she’s not calling out Ronda for a pay day, she would be as interested in a fight with Ronda if they were both still fighting at Strikeforce. You are correct in her not having any leverage, but that is mostly all due to the fact that the head of the UFC is 100% behind Ronda. Dana won’t put Ronda in harms way, period.

    You have to understand that if the fight takes place at 135lbs, it won’t mean much because Cyborg will be beyond drained at that weight and won’t perform. Look at the countless examples of fighters cutting too much weight, like Anthony Johnson. Johnson lost to Josh Koscheck solely because he was sucked of all energy from his dramatic weight cut, and look at him now. You’ve heard the same line over and over, “The point of diminishing return” when it comes to weight cutting. If Cyborg is forced to fight at 135, the fight is meaningless.

    I think we should look at the champions of the past like BJ Penn and Randy Couture — among several greats — who went out and fought the best competition available, regardless of weight. BJ Penn fought outside of his weight class countless times and that is why he is remembered as a warrior, he never hid behind a weight class because another guy wasn’t as popular as him. Randy Couture fought Brock the likes of Tim Sylvia, Brock Lesnar, Gabriel Gonzaga, all while being the smaller man.

    I think we should encourage fighters to test their greatness by fighting the best. You may say Cyborg doesn’t have drawing power, but I’m sure if Ronda and her were to fight, it would be the biggest fight that Ronda has ever been in by miles. You can argue that Ronda’s competition at 135 is better than Cyborgs but the fact remains that 135 is cleared out, there are no threats whatsoever. Don’t confuse what Ronda is doing by saying that she is just amazing and out of this world, she is good but she is fighting hands down the worst competition imaginable for this day and age.

    As for your steroid argument, you have to be objective and realize that just about everyone in MMA is or has used something illegal at some point in their careers, why is it that Cyborg gets crucified over it when guys like Chael Sonnen were always faithfully supported even after we knew he had cheated? Why don’t we see the same outrage over all the other countless fighters who have been popped with illegal supplements? Just run thorough testing on Cyborg and Ronda before and after their fight and get over it.

    Fighters become great by overcoming great obstacles and at this stage of Ronda’s career, beating Meisha Tate for the third time or beating Holly Holm or anyone else in the weak 135lb division is no obstacle whatsoever. Ronda’s fights are exhibitions now, she’s not being tested. There is one test and she should face it head on, no stipulations or excuses. Beat Cyborg at 145 and go down in history as one of the greats who fought all comers.

  • srichey321

    Excellent article and quite reasonable. Ms. Justino, really has not beat anyone of importance except for Marloes Coenen (who gave her a decent fight).

    She has to earn her way to Rousey. Beat Nunes or Cat Zingano or even Miesha Tate then maybe I will support her in fighting Rousey.

    Kind of like that PT Barnum saying — that all it is right now.