“Cyborg” will compete at Lion Fight 14 on Saturday. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Cristiane Justino, better known to MMA fans as Cris “Cyborg,” has already put a plan in motion that could ultimately land her inside the UFC Octagon opposite Ronda Rousey.
However, regardless of how successful Justino ultimately finds her pursuit of UFC bantamweight gold, Invicta’s reigning featherweight champion also plans to give her muay Thai career the attention it deserves.
“When I started training, I [trained] muay Thai,” Justino recently told Sherdog.com. “I like striking, but I think everything I learn in muay Thai helps my game in MMA, [so] it’s very important. MMA comes first, but I love muay Thai.”
Justino will put her considerable striking skills on display this Saturday at Lion Fight 14, when “Cyborg” squares off with Jorina Baars, an experienced and undefeated Dutch kickboxer. The event takes place at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and airs live on AXS TV.
Friday’s showdown marks Justino’s first action of 2014, a year the 28-year-old hopes to fill with her busiest schedule yet.
“I am very blessed to have this opportunity. It’s very good for me to stay busy, and it helps me to work on my plan to cut my weight to 135 pounds,” Justino said. “I am fighting Friday. I am fighting in May for Invicta, [and then] in July again for Lion Fight, [and then] in August for Invicta again. I asked for more fights. I want to do this. If [the cut to bantamweight] doesn’t work, I still want to fight more. I want to do more for women’s MMA and muay Thai.”
The long-term goal of eventually fighting Rousey remains a significant force force behind Justino’s planned drop to bantamweight, but it is not the only reason, according to the former Strikeforce champ.
“People think I want to be a bantamweight to fight Ronda Rousey,” Justino said, “but I [also] want to be at 135 pounds because I will have more girls to fight there.”
In regard to the UFC bantamweight queen, “Cyborg” said she found humor in Rousey’s recent declaration that she would make an exception and fight at a catch-weight if Gina Carano ever decided to return to MMA.
“You need to be ready for war -- any girl -- you need to be ready. I think Ronda has been given the chance to choose her opponent too much. I think she is running from me and doesn’t want to make this fight,” Justino said. “She said she would fight Gina Carano at 145 pounds, but only Gina. When I saw this, I was laughing. Why Gina and not ‘Cyborg’? She is scared. Gina has had a lot of time where she has not been fighting. Last time she fought was against me in 2009. Ronda thinks it will be easy, but I hope that Gina comes out and has a good camp and it is a good fight if it happens.”
In the end, Justino hopes that with enough victories on her record and belts around her waist, she will be granted a match with Rousey in the Octagon. In the meantime, the Brazilian will continue to follow the stringent diet she began in December in order to make her bantamweight debut this fall.
“We have a plan. I will give 100 percent, like I always do,” said Justino. “[Invicta owner] Shannon Knapp is for sure by my side now, and the first time I will be fighting at 135 pounds will be for Invicta in September.”