Cristiane Justino made a little bit of history on Saturday night when she vanquished Julia Budd to claim the Bellator featherweight crown.
The title was the fourth career championship win for “Cyborg,” adding to a collection that already includes belts in the UFC, Invicta FC and Strikeforce. The 34-year-old Brazilian took a moment to reflect on the accomplishment during the Bellator 238 post-fight press conference.
“I was never thinking this is going to happen,” she said. “When I start, I have a dream. I have a dream I want to do my best. One thing I have in my heart, I want to prove that girls can fight like the guys. We can be violent, we can be technical, you can make the people like you and watch your fights. … I’m thankful. I feel blessed I have the opportunity to hold four titles.”
Each title held different meaning for “Cyborg.” She won her first championship in the now-defunct Strikeforce promotion, which was led by current Bellator president Scott Coker. She captured Invicta gold during a period in which she was pursuing a UFC deal and a fight with then bantamweight queen Ronda Rousey. And when the UFC finally created a women’s featherweight division, she was able to win that belt, despite what she claims was an unwelcoming environment within the Las Vegas-based promotion.
“I think every belt is something special for me,” Justino said. “First one, Strikeforce, is the first featherweight division, Scott Coker makes 145 pounds. Invicta, I came from a hard time in my career and everyone saying, ‘She needs to prove [herself], she needs to prove,’ and they come, and I fight for the Invicta belt.
“And UFC, we make the difference. We make history. I have my division there. They never wanted to have me there. My fans put me there. I cut weight two times for 140. I almost killed myself, but we make the history. Now they have that. And now Bellator.”
As has been the case in the past, it may prove difficult for Justino to find competition, as Budd was regarded far and away the best female featherweight within Bellator. For now,, “Cyborg” was content to savor another career milestone.
“When I came here and heard I was going to fight at The Forum, I said God is amazing,” Cyborg stated. “I lost my belt here, I [came] back here and fight, I got a title. I worked really hard for this fight. I always work hard and I feel happy to have the opportunity and make history. This is going to be the only fighter to get four titles.
“It just means we never quit. It doesn’t matter how hard it is during your career, I had a lot of downs, good times in my career but I don’t quit. It makes me strong. This is what I like to show my fans. Don’t quit. Make it strong and it’s hard. It’s hard every time.”