Cristiane ‘Cyborg’ Justino: 5 Defining Moments

By Brian Knapp Jul 27, 2017

She has been a weapon of mass destruction for well over a decade.

Cris Cyborg will take on Tonya Evinger for the vacant Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s featherweight title at UFC 214 “Cormier vs. Jones 2” this Saturday at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. It would serve as the Brazilian juggernaut’s crown jewel in a trophy case that already includes championships in Invicta and Strikeforce. Defined by overwhelming physical tools and the unbridled ferocity to match, “Cyborg” has finished seven consecutive opponents since her 16-second knockout of Hiroko Yamanaka was overturned due to a positive test for steroids in 2011. Justino, 32, last appeared in the UFC Fight Night 95 main event on Sept. 24, when she cut down Lina Lansberg with second-round punches to improve to 2-0 inside the Octagon.

In a career marked by defining moments, here are five that stand out:

1. Not Quite Perfect

“Cyborg” suffered her first and only MMA defeat in her professional debut. It happened at Show Fight 2 on May 17, 2005 in Curitiba, Brazil. Erica Paes was the perpetrator. The X-Gym export executed an early takedown, settled in side control and advanced briefly to the back before an out-for-blood Justino escaped to her feet. “Cyborg” cut loose with vicious standing-to-ground punches but grew overzealous in her haste to finish. Paes used Justino’s aggression against her, rolled into a double kneebar and prompted the tapout 1:46 into the first round. It was no precursor of stardom for Paes. She has made just four appearances since, with wins over Gisel Maciel and Evelin Gomes offset by losses to Dina Van den Hooven and Bethe Correia. Paes last fought in March 2015.

2. American Made

Justino left the regional scene behind and touched down on American soil for the first time at EliteXC “Unfinished Business” on July 26, 2008 at the Stockton Arena in Stockton, California. She made an immediate impression and did so at the expense of women’s MMA pioneer Shayna Baszler before a network television audience on CBS. “Cyborg” met a takedown and repeated leg lock attempts from Baszler with devastating ground-and-pound in the first round. The tone was set. In the second, she shrugged off Baszler’s bid to drag her back to the mat and drove forward with power punches until the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, native collapsed at her feet. Thinking the fight was over, Justino climbed to the top of the fence in a bizarre sequence, her arms raised in triumph as referee Steve Mazzagatti beckoned her back into the cage. Upon the restart, a confused “Cyborg” ripped into the exhausted Baszler with rights and lefts until Mazzagatti waved it off 2:48 into Round 2.

3. Cuddles to Puddles

A whirlwind of violence and technique, Justino has administered plenty of memorable beatings during her career. None were more savage than her epic drubbing of Jan Finney under the Strikeforce-M-1 Global banner on June 26, 2010. Justino’s Strikeforce championship was on the line before a crowd of 11,757 at the HP Pavilion, but it soon became clear the outcome was never in question. For nearly eight minutes, “Cyborg” launched a sustained assault on Finney -- in the clinch, at distance and on the ground. It was unsettling to watch, a massacre in every sense of the word. FightMetric data shows Justino threw 211 strikes, landed 127 of them and denied all seven of her challenger’s attempted takedown. By the time Finney succumbed to one final knee strike 2:56 into Round 2, “Cuddles” was a beaten, bloody and exhausted mess in need of a hug.

4. Rematch Rerun

“Cyborg” already held one decisive victory over Marloes Coenen when they met in a rematch for the inaugural Invicta Fighting Championships featherweight title in the Invicta 6 headliner on July 13, 2013 at the Ameristar Casino in Kansas City, Missouri. Much like their first encounter, which was won by Justino under the Strikeforce banner a little more than three years prior, Coenen was game but physically outmatched. “Cyborg” connected with power punches on the feet, slammed the Dutch grappler to the mat repeatedly and piled on with punishing but measured ground-and-pound. Even though she was never in danger, Justino allowed “Rumina” to return to her feet on several occasions rather than attacking from inside her guard. A thudding right hand to the jaw marked the beginning of the end for Coenen in the fourth round. Justino pounced on her dazed counterpart and pounded away until referee John McCarthy had seen enough and called for the stoppage 4:02 into Round 4.

5. No Octagon Jitters

Justino made her promotional debut at UFC 198 on May 14, 2016 and carved up Leslie Smith with first-round punches in their 140-pound catchweight feature at Arena da Baixada in Curitiba, Brazil. Smith succumbed to blows 1:21 into Round 1, as referee Eduardo Herdy swooped in to save her. She was not happy with the stoppage. Justino stalked her prey in a matchup where the outcome always seemed inevitable. The Chute Boxe star lit into Smith with a four-punch combination that put the Cesar Gracie protégé on her back. Justino showed no hesitation, as she pounced with vicious ground-and-pound. Smith turned away from the fire, giving Herdy all the incentive he needed to wave it off.
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