While Cristiane Justino recently threatened to leave the UFC if the promotion didn’t implement her weight class, Dana White claims that steps have already been taken to accommodate the Brazilian star.
“What’s crazy about that is this: I offered Cris Cyborg a title fight at 145 pounds a month ago,” the promotion president said on the UFC “Unfiltered” podcast. “She had eight weeks to get ready for it. She said she couldn’t make the weight. She said she couldn’t make 145 pounds. So then I offered her another 145-pound title fight for Brooklyn [at UFC 208]. She turned it down.
“She’s turned down two 145-pound title fights. One because she said she couldn’t make 145 pounds in eight weeks. And [matchmaker] Joe Silva’s like, ‘If she can’t make 145 pounds in eight weeks, 145 isn’t the right weight class for her either.’”
Justino, who is still the reigning featherweight titlist in Invicta Fighting Championships, has competed twice in the UFC — both in 140-pound catch-weight bouts. “Cyborg’s” struggles to make the weight limit on both occasions were well documented, which is part of why she had designs on leaving the UFC after the rest of her contract was fulfilled.
“The main thing is that I have two fights left in my division [featherweight],” Cyborg recently told Peruvian news outlet El Comercio. “I’m going to stay in my division, and see if the UFC opens up my division, or if they don’t do it, I’m going to leave.”
White said that Justino has recently been offered title fights against both Holly Holm and Germaine de Randamie at 145 pounds. Given the timeframe mentioned it was likely that the Holm bout would have been at the now-postponed pay-per-view event in Anaheim, Calif., on Jan. 21. White said Justino did not give a reason for balking at the de Randamie matchup, which would have taken place on Feb. 11 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
“There is no excuse,” he said. “She just turned the fight down.”
When Justino initially signed her UFC contract, the hope was that she would gradually make the cut to 135 pounds for a future blockbuster showdown with then bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey. While it appears “Cyborg” at bantamweight will never become a reality, White doesn’t believe that weight is the real issue when it comes to Justino’s refusal to fight for a newly-created 145-pound championship.
“She was having a hard time [getting to 135], so she cut down to 140. Then there was the whole thing about, ‘I can’t make 140 pounds.’ Finally we just said f—k it. Alright then. We’ll make a 145-pound title for you and here we go,” White said. “She said, ‘I can’t make 145 pounds in eight weeks.’ So then we offered her the fight in Brooklyn and she turned that one down too.
“This doesn’t have to do with weight. It obviously has nothing to do with weight cutting. I don’t know what it has to do with, but we’re gonna figure it out.”