Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino (Esther Lin/Invicta FC)

Cristiane ‘Cyborg’ Justino: MMA’s Equivalent of Mike Tyson

It is not every day, especially in MMA, that a fighter can be compared to a prime Mike Tyson. Today isn’t every day, though. Today is just a couple of short days away from the next UFC appearance of Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino.

When the aforementioned Tyson was at the top of his game on the way to becoming the youngest heavyweight boxing champion ever, he had an aura about him. That aura came in part because he was absolutely demolishing any and all challengers with relative ease. Everyone watching knew what was eventually coming. They looked on in fear for his opponent’s health. Analysts and fans would scoff at the notion of a chance that the man fighting Tyson could take out the heavyweight king. For many years, Tyson’s opponents were viewed as sacrificial lambs.

It wasn’t just that Tyson was a great athlete and boxer. It was the way he was ripping through his opponents like it was their first day inside a boxing ring. The sport of boxing has never seen anything like him before or since his reign began in the mid 1980s. Cyborg has followed a similar path in her MMA career.


It can easily be argued that there has never been a fighter more dominant in the sport of MMA than the current Invicta featherweight champion. Since losing her professional debut in 2005, Cyborg is on a 16-fight winning streak. 16.

Yet, just stating the length of her streak would be to do a major disservice to the Brazilian. Not only has she not lost in over 10 years, but her fights haven’t even been very competitive. When betting on a Cyborg fight, it isn’t about putting money on one fighter over the other. We all know who will win. The real bet is whether or not the fight is going past the one-minute mark. Or the two-minute mark. That is how much of a dominant fighter Cyborg has been for the last decade or so.

This is what makes the UFC’s handling of Cyborg extremely frustrating at times. She is easily the best female featherweight fighter in the world. She is fighting under the UFC banner. Yet, the company still does not have a 145-pound division. Instead, the UFC makes Cyborg drop an extra five pounds to fight in 140-pound catchweight contests.

There is a long history between the UFC and Cyborg that dates back to when Ronda Rousey was the queen of the 135-pound division. Every person under the sun who understood MMA was talking about a potential Rousey-Cyborg match-up. For too many circumstances to list, that dream match-up never came to fruition. Now, with Rousey out of the picture for the foreseeable future, it seems like it will be a while before any of those talks heat up once more.

With the potential big money fight at bantamweight against Rousey off the table for the Brazilian, it is time for the UFC to bring in a featherweight women’s division and give Cyborg a proper home. Enough with this whole thing of making her cut an extra five pounds on top of what is already an excruciating weight cut down to 145 pounds. In a video trailer released to tease the debut of her upcoming mini documentary, she was literally crying on the ground while trying to make her 140-pound debut earlier this year at UFC 198.

Cyborg has repeatedly said making the weight is not healthy for her and her future as an aspiring mother, yet the UFC insists she cuts the extra weight. For what? These catchweight fights mean absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things. There is no title. There isn’t even a division. The UFC is not bringing up the big names from the 135-pound division to make super fights against Cyborg. It’s all utterly meaningless.

This is not how a once-in-a-lifetime fighter should be treated at the prime of her career. Cyborg alone can carry the division. Just look at how much attention she receives even though she doesn’t have her weight class inside the biggest promotion in the world. Not only is there no reason to keep asking Cyborg to make the cut to 140 pounds for fights that mean nothing, but at this point it is a borderline careless act by the UFC.

Boxing had a divisional home for Tyson. It’s time the UFC provide one for Cyborg.