Cris “Cyborg” Justino smashed, thrashed, and generally impressed in her promotional debut at UFC 198 this past weekend, one of those rare times a fighter making their debut lived up to the hype. Immediately following the fight, there was talk of “what’s next?” — or better yet, who’s next?

Cyborg herself suggested she would continue defending her Invicta FC featherweight championship, though whether or not she should bother doing so is a question for another day. When it comes to the UFC, meanwhile, she indicated she was open to future catchweight bouts at 140lbs. She didn’t name names, but then, she didn’t have to. The names that come to mind are obvious.

Holly Holm. Ronda Rousey. And Miesha Tate, the UFC women’s bantamweight champion.

When it comes to Holm and Rousey, sure, let them fight Cyborg. With Holm, you have two dangerous strikers facing off. The boxer vs. the Muay Thai fighter. Two big girls with power, though Holm’s is in her legs, while with Cyborg, well, her hands are just deadly. With Rousey, meanwhile, you have the obvious grudge match. One that has been building for years.

Miesha Tate, on the other hand? Cupcake should be nowhere near Cyborg at 140lbs. It’s not that they shouldn’t fight — they just shouldn’t do it at a catchweight.

History has shown that when catchweight fights involving champions go badly, they go very badly. While Anderson Silva liked to moonlight at light heavyweight, he never took on a top contender there. Consider instead the dubious decision by Bellator to allow their then-middleweight champion, Alexander Shlemenko, to go up in weight and face Tito Ortiz in 2014. A favorite entering the fight, Shlemenko lost, and lost all momentum following the first round submission to the Huntington Beach Bad Boy. He would lose his subsequent fight to Brandon Halsey, find himself flagged for steroid use, and banished from fighting the in U.S. for three years.

Then there’s Conor McGregor. Going up in weight to fight Rafael Dos Anjos was a calculated move — there’s no shame in losing to a fellow champ, it doesn’t really devalue you any if you’re the smaller man. Taking on Nate Diaz another weight class up, however, in hindsight, may not have been the best idea. McGregor lost, lost to a non-champion, and while he’s still likely the most popular UFC champion, he’s in a perilous situation: if he loses again, suddenly, his train is derailed as well.

Arguably, champs should only be switching weight classes to fight other champions, or to vacate the division and make a permanent home at a new weight. 140 makes no sense for Miesha Tate with that in mind: there’s no weight class there, and if she loses, does anyone respect her as the bantamweight kingpin?

Beyond that, Cris Cyborg was actually under the allowable limit for her catchweight tilt against Leslie Smith at UFC 198. She’s mere pounds away from the bantamweight limit. If she wants to fight a champion, let her do it there. Catchweight bouts are fine against other fighters, but champions are another matter.

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.