Cris Cyborg will make her promotional debut on January 25th with Bellator MMA. She jumps right into the deep end and will be contending for the promotion’s featherweight title next Saturday. Cyborg takes on Julia Budd who has defended her title multiple times and is riding a win streak of over ten fights. This featherweight megafight is the main event of Bellator 238 and emanates from The Forum in Inglewood, California. I had the opportunity to do a bit of a Q&A with Cris Cyborg and we covered a possible AEW crossover, future goals for a featherweight grand prix in Japan, honoring the Chute Boxe lineage, and so much more!
You have a chance to become the first grand slam champion in MMA awaits you. What would winning the Bellator belt mean for your career overall? I think becoming Bellator Champion would be a huge accomplishment for my career. Winning the Strikeforce, Invicta, and UFC belts has been amazing in many ways, but for me I have always fought for this division, to create a legacy where other women can compete at 145lbs. With Bellator I have an opportunity to fight in a real division, with a long standing champion already holding the belt, in a division with other fighters actively competing in the 145lbs weight class. If you look at the World Rankings at 145lbs no other promotion has more fighters in the female top 10 of the world than Bellator. I think winning the Bellator Featherweight Championship will be special because I know it will be in a promotion with the deepest division and the most talent in WMMA.
If you get the desired outcome and defeat a well-regarded champion like Julia Budd, what does that win do for your legacy? I let fans talk about legacy. I have won world championship belts 3 times in my career more than any other fighter male or female in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts already. Winning the Bellator belt would mean I captured every major world title in my weight class, that is something special for sure. To me being a world champion isn’t about the things you do in the cage though, to me being a world champion is about the things you do outside the cage. When I’m traveling the world and see kids in Uganda, or people in Brazil without basic needs, I know they don’t care what I have done inside the cage, to me being a world champion is finding ways to help change the lives of everyday people and that’s what I want my legacy to be when I’m done fighting.
How has the treatment from the Bellator brass been ahead of your promotional debut? I’m very happy to be with Bellator, Scott Coker and his team are professional and treat the athletes as individuals with respect. You can see how Coker handled Rory’s departure and see he’s a classy business partner. I look forward to competing in the Featherweight division they have successfully built over the years.
Cris Cyborg vs Julia Budd
Has there been any dialogue with AEW about making an appearance or with having a full-on pro wrestling match? I had a chance to sit ringside at AEW’s event in Las Vegas and just love the atmosphere they create. Pro Wrestling is real in the sense that you have to train, you have to be prepared, and you have to bring your A game or you are going to get seriously injured. My focus has been on my upcoming fight with Julia Budd and because of that I haven’t had time to properly prepare for a wrestling match but it is something I think will be a ton of fun for my fans and a real challenge for me.
You’ve mentioned the desire to compete in Boxing. Is there a desired weight class or set of opponents you’d be interested in? My focus right now is on Julia Budd Jan 25th and after that fight we will sit as a team and decide what is next.
You’ve mentioned wanting to compete in a Grand Prix in Japan. Would you hope for the tournament to be at featherweight or would you moreso enjoy competing in an openweight grand prix? I think a one night featherweight tournament would be a fun challenge.
In your recent LA media day scrum, you mentioned the history of Chute Boxe fighters competing in grand prix events in Japan. How important is it to you representing that Chute Boxe legacy every time you compete? Chute Boxe is where I got my start, even though I live in California now and have my own training camps going on in the USA I am still proud of the things I learned as a young fighter watching that room of world champions train. Fighters like Wanderlia Silva, Fabricio Werdum, Anderson Silva, Pele, Cyborg Santos, and more really showed a fighter what type of mentality it took to succeed in fighting.