Cristiane Justino was her usual dominant self at UFC 214, only this time she performed when the stakes were at their highest.
Forced to go past the second round for the first time in more than four years, “Cyborg” kept her cool and dispatched former Invicta FC bantamweight queen Tonya Evinger via technical knockout 1:56 into the third round at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., on Saturday night. With the victory, Justino claimed the women’s featherweight crown, a title that seemed destined for her when the UFC opened the division earlier this year.
“Cyborg looked good. She was very composed,” UFC President Dana White said at the post-fight press conference. “She didn’t go out there crazy. She picked her shots, took her time.”
That Justino wasn’t the promotion’s inaugural featherweight queen seems even more ridiculous now than it did when the UFC booked Germaine de Randamie to face Holly Holm for that honor in February. While de Randamie emerged victorious in that bout at UFC 208, she ultimately refused to face “Cyborg” in favor of a return to the bantamweight division.
However, Holm could conceivably get another shot at featherweight gold if Justino gets her way. “The Preacher’s Daughter” ended a three-fight skid in her last outing, as she scored a head-kick knockout of Bethe Correia in a 135-pound contest at UFC Fight Night 111 on June 17. She remains one of the most marketable female fighters in the sport, thanks in large part to her knockout of Ronda Rousey at UFC 193.
“My next move I would like to fight Holly Holm. I think she is a great fighter, and she is a bigger girl like me,” Justino said. “She’s fought already at 145. I think it’s a fight the fans will like because she’s a striker. Let’s do that, maybe next. I don’t know.”
Justino was originally scheduled to face Megan Anderson at UFC 214, but that bout was scrapped when Anderson was forced to withdraw due to personal issues. While Anderson could loom as a potential foe down the road, White seems to be on the same page with the newly crowned women’s featherweight champion.
“I was just talking to Holly Holm…It seems like she’s interested,” White said. “I like Holly vs. Cyborg. I think it’s a good fight.”