White: Cyborg Turned Down 145 Lb. Title Fight
Cris "Cyborg" Justino is on the list of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the UFC, yet she does not belong to a division. With no featherweight class, Cyborg has gone through brutal and frankly dangerous weight cuts to make a catchweight of 140 lbs., and recently said she would never cut to that weight again.
According to UFC President Dana White, however, Cyborg was offered the chance to fight for a belt at 145 lbs. in the UFC, and she turned the opportunity down — twice.
“What’s crazy about that is this: I offered Cris Cyborg a title fight at 145 pounds a month ago,” White said on the UFC Unfiltered podcast. “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.’”
According to White, Cyborg was offered featherweight title fights against Holly Holm and then Germaine de Randamie.
Cyborg made her UFC debut earlier this year, when she competed in a 140 lb. catchweight bout at UFC 198 in Brazil. The original plan, according to White, was to give Cyborg some time to diet down to 135 lbs. to eventually make the super-fight with Ronda Rousey. Not only could Cyborg not make 135, but she struggled mightily to get down to the catchweight. Even the cut to 145 lbs. is seemingly strenuous enough that Cyborg needs more than eight weeks to make the weight.
“First of all, obviously when we did the deal with Cyborg we sat down with her and said, ‘Listen, if you can make it down to 135 pounds, maybe we can hire you a dietitian and help you get there or whatever, and get you in the mix, get you a couple of with these girls and then fight Ronda (Rousey) for the title,’ and she was all in,” White said. “That’s why she signed the deal. Then she was having a hard time doing it, so she cut down to 140, then this whole thing about, ‘I can’t make 140 pounds.’ Finally, we just said, ‘Fuck it, alright then, we’ll make a 145-pound title for you,’ and here we go. She said, ‘I can’t make 145 pounds in eight weeks.’
“This doesn’t have to do with weight. Obviously it has nothing to do with weight cutting. I don’t know what it has to do with, so we’re gonna figure it out.”
Holm reportedly was interested in taking the fight with Cyborg, but had to turn the offer down when her coach Mike Winkeljohn opposed it.
"And just for the record, Holly was so excited, Holly was so excited for that fight,” White said. “Her coach, [Mike] Winkeljohn, said, ‘That’s not the right fight for Holly.’ So Holly had to turn it down, so we went for Germaine, and Germaine wants the fight."
Assuming Cyborg and the UFC can reach an agreement about her future in the promotion, a women’s featherweight division seems likely to be created in 2017.