Cris “Cyborg” Justino isn’t fighting this Saturday at UFC on FOX 16, but best believe she’ll be keeping a close eye on the co-main event. Speaking of Eye, Jessica Eye will be battling Miesha Tate (pictured) for next crack at the UFC bantamweight crown.
What’s that top contender tilt have to do with Justino, who is currently Invicta FC’s featherweight champion, you ask? Well, a Tate win would set up a third tango with reigning UFC bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey (assuming 15-1 odds-on favorite Rousey blasts Bethe Correia at UFC 190, of course).
Tate is a 2-1 favorite to beat Eye and advance to another championship affair. Great…
Granted, Tate is the only woman to ever take Rousey past the first round, all the way to the (gasp) third period in their rematch, but it doesn’t change the fact Rousey finished her on both occasions via her trademark armbar.
Let’s be honest, nobody expects a different outcome in a potential trilogy.
Rousey is quickly running out of formidable opponents. Sure, there’s still a few top 10 bantamweights she’s yet to face, but top 10 doesn’t really mean anything in a division that’s deeply deprived of talent.
“Rowdy” has already lapped the field, and if she beats Tate a third time, she’ll have run circles around it three times.
In steps Justino, the only female alive that some believe can not only give Rousey a run for her money, but actually be the first to blemish her perfect 11-0 résumé.
Although UFC brass have seemingly run from the superfight for years, leaving many to accuse them of protecting their biggest mainstream star from the brutal Brazilian, they have finally agreed that they’ll make it happen … IF Justino can show she can safely compete at 135 pounds.
Justino has claimed for years that she desperately wants to fight Rousey to prove she’s the baddest female in the game. If Tate wins, the heat will be on Justino to put the fork down, push away from the buffet table and put her money where her mouth is. It’s now or never.
The plan is for Justino to test out the bantamweight waters before year’s end in Invicta. If she’s able to successfully shed the 10 pounds the UFC is requiring in order to challenge Rousey for her crown, then the blockbuster bout is on. If not, Justino will continue to be on the outside looking in while Rousey keeps building her case as MMA’s GOAT.
If Eye pulls off the upset in spectacular fashion, that gives Rousey fresh meat and buys Justino a little bit more time. However, the clock is ticking.
Your move, Cyborg.