What’s Next For Cris Cyborg After Bellator 259 Victory?

Published 05/22/2021, 11:50 AM CDT
CURITIBA, BRAZIL – MAY 14: (L-R) Cristiane ‘Cyborg’ Justino of Brazil celebrates after defeating Leslie Smith in their women’s catchweight bout during the UFC 198 event at Arena da Baixada stadium on May 14, 2016 in Curitiba, Parana, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)


Reigning Bellator MMA women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg has successfully defended her crown against Leslie Smith at Bellator 259. The former UFC champion stopped Smith via TKO in the fifth round in her second title defense.

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It was a rematch from UFC 198, where the two fighters collided for the first time. That match had a quick finish, unlike this one. The recent one saw Smith put up a more fight and was constantly on Cyborg’s toes. But just like the previous one, this one too ended in a loss for the former.

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With this win, Cyborg has now picked up 4 wins on the trot. She has now successfully defended her crowns in Strikeforce, UFC, and Bellator MMA. Now only a few fighters are left whom she could target. Let’s have a look at them.

Cris Cyborg vs Cat Zingano

After picking up a hard-fought victory against Smith, Cyborg called out Zingano for the third title defense. Zingano is currently ranked as No.3 in the division.

The champ explained her reasons for calling out Zingano after the fight. She believes she couldn’t be called the greatest of all time without conquering Zingano. Cyborg has one of the longest tenures of any fighter in MMA with 16 years of legacy.

“You know, I have 16 years of fighting experience. But you cannot be a (Greatest Of All Time) if you’re scared of Cat (Zingano). So, I asked to see if Scott Coker agreed. I would like to fight Cat Zingano. No disrespect to her. I know she is a real fighter. But I think it’s going to be a great fight between us,” Cyborg said.

Zingano has secured two wins out of two since her debut for the Bellator promotion. She last fought against Olivia Parker at Bellator 256 and won via armbar submission. Zingano had already mentioned her wish to fight and defeat Cyborg for the title.

If president Scott Coker gives a nod to the fight, then we could see both magnificent fighters colliding for the title next.

A rematch with Amanda Nunes

Out of two career losses in Cyborg’s legendary history, one has come against ‘The Lioness’ Amanda Nunes. Both had faced each other for the first time at UFC 232.

Nunes decimated Cyborg on route to her first-round KO victory. Even though they don’t belong in the same promotion, Cyborg has constantly urged for a rematch with Nunes.

Nunes had defeated Megan Anderson at UFC 259, which prompted Cyborg to again campaign for a rematch. In an interview given at that time, Cyborg said, “I know everybody wants to see (Cyborg vs Nunes rematch) fight. Let’s make this fight happen. Ya know? I don’t have (the) opportunity to do the rematch before.

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“But, for sure in the future, if Dana White would like to do, I’d like to do. Let’s wait and see what’s gonna happen. We’re open for that. Scott Coker’s open for (cross-promotion fight). Just the other side has to agree.”

A rematch with Nunes can be a perfect ode to her legendary career but seems like a fight with Zingano is more realistic. Whatever happens in the future, Cyborg will definitely go down as one of the all-time greats.

Can we see any of the two fights happening soon?

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Akshyay Srichandan Mahapatra

255 articles

Akshyay Mahapatra is a UFC author for EssentiallySports. He wished to combine his passion for the UFC (that he has been following since 2008) as well as his love for writing. This motivated him to enter the world of combat sports journalism.

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