Cristiane Justino is expected to make her bantamweight debut in December. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
It’s no secret that Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino wants to get her hands on Ronda Rousey.
While Shannon Knapp can’t predict what the future holds for “Cyborg,” especially in regards to a potential UFC deal, the Invicta Fighting Championships president is confident that Justino, the promotion’s reigning 145-pound champion, will be able to make the bantamweight limit.
Earlier this summer, Knapp revealed that “Cyborg” is expected to make her 135-pound debut at Invicta FC 10 in December. Nothing seems to have changed in that regard.
“Everything seems to be on schedule,” Knapp told Sherdog.com. “She is pumped up and ready; she is making her way. She wants that fight with Ronda. She is putting in the hard work, the time and the effort to get that fight. I think she’s very focused on getting to where she needs to be and where she needs to go to have that matchup.”
Justino’s opponent for the December event has yet to be announced. Meanwhile, Invicta FC 8 is in the immediate future, as the promotion’s debut on UFC Fight Pass takes place on Saturday at the Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo. The card is headlined by an atomweight title clash between reigning champ Michelle Waterson and Yasuko Tamada.
The Fight Pass deal should benefit all Invicta athletes, but especially someone like Justino, who has campaigned for a matchup with Rousey for some time. Knapp hinted that Fight Pass could include some additional coverage of the Strikeforce veteran’s divisional relocation.
“As she really starts into that hard cut of the weight, we want to document that; we want to take the fans on that journey with her and let them see,” Knapp said. “She’s a tremendous athlete. A lot of people have negative stuff to say; they kick her around [about] muscle mass and stuff like that.
“This is one of the hardest working athletes – I’m not saying hardest working female athlete – I’m telling you she’s one of the hardest working athletes I have ever had the opportunity to witness.”
While Gina Carano has been rumored as the next opponent for Rousey, Knapp thinks that matchup pales in comparison to a potential showdown between “Rowdy” and “Cyborg.”
“Provided that she does make that weight -- if we can get that matchup between her and Ronda, this is going to be a fight that people are not going to forget,” Knapp said. “If you ask me, this is the biggest female fight there is out there and will be out there for years to come.”
Knapp points to the Jon Jones-Daniel Cormier UFC 178 media day brawl as an example of pre-fight animosity serving to build hype. The bad blood between Rousey and Justino is well documented, which would only help sell a potential fight between the two rivals.
“These two don’t like each other. If you take a look at what happened with Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones, that skyrocketed the interest in that,” she said. “The interest is already here with Cris and Ronda. Whether you like Cris and hate Ronda or vice versa...people want to see this fight. How the fight goes, who knows? But what I do know is the anticipation for this matchup, if it does get set, people are going to be incredibly excited for this fight.”