The UFC is interested in booking Cris “Cyborg” Justino to another high-profile fight in early 2018, but there seems to be a disagreement on the right opponent.
In an interview with Yahoo! Sports this week, UFC president Dana White said the “fight to make” is with two-time defending bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes.
Nunes (15-4), who fights out of Coconut Creek, Florida, took to social media on Friday to express her interest in the potential bout, which is arguably the biggest fight to make in female combat sports.
“First of all, I have nothing personal against [Justino],” Nunes wrote on Twitter. “I do believe it is the fight that everyone wants to see and a fight where we can both leave our marks on this sport.”
But Justino (19-1), who defeated Holly Holm at UFC 219 last weekend, is apparently not on board. She has generally resisted the idea of fighting Nunes in the past, saying she wouldn’t relish the opportunity to knock off a fellow Brazilian titleholder.
More importantly, Justino says she is obligated to build the 145-pound division, which is historically thin. In a written statement, Justino said the best way to build the division is to defend the UFC title against 145-pound contenders, not the 135-pound champion.
“I can continue giving fans super fights, however in order for this division to grow it is my responsibility to respect the work of all the women fighting at 145 pounds and give the top girls a chance at the title once they have earned it,” Justino wrote on her website.
“If Amanda Nunes wants an opportunity at the 145-pound belt, a win against any ranked contender in that division would help establish her back in a weight class she left before fighting me.”
The chances of Nunes fighting another woman at 145 pounds are slim to none. Beyond Justino, the UFC’s female featherweight division essentially doesn’t exist. The promotion does have former Invicta FC champion Megan Anderson under contract, but Anderson has been sidelined since July due to personal issues.
Despite Justino’s hesitancy, the UFC’s interest in the Nunes bout is obvious.
“Amanda Nunes is a big, strong, powerful puncher,” White said. “I think she matches up very well with Cyborg too, and I think that’s a fun fight and that’s the fight to make.”