Well, isn’t this interest. On Monday, it was announced Invicta FC featherweight champion Cris “Cyborg” Justino (pictured) will be allowed to fight in the UFC in a 140-pound catchweight contest, despite for years denying the buff Brazilian access into the big leagues to face Ronda Rousey in a superfight in the makeshift weight class.
Justino will make her long-awaited UFC debut against Leslie Smith at UFC 198.
The May 14 event takes place inside Arena Atletico Paranaense in Curitiba, Brasil, so having Justino perform in front of her fellow Brazilians certainly helped her make the roster.
Although Justino is officially signed to Invicta, the UFC is the one who cuts her checks and retains her rights.
Justino owns a dominant 15-1 (1 NC) professional record. Despite the loss in her first MMA fight, the biggest blemish on her resume is the 2011 no contest to Hiroko Yamanaka, which was the result of testing positive for stanozolol.
That flunked drug test, along with Justino’s inability to shed the 10 pounds the UFC was requiring in order to challenge then-bantamweight champ Rousey for her belt, were the primary roadblocks the UFC threw up in arranging the biggest fight in MMA history.
Many accused the UFC of coming up with any and every excuse to protect their golden girl from Justino. Now that Rousey’s aura of invincibility was evaporated with a highlight reel head kick by Holly Holm in November, the UFC has finally allowed Justino to perform on MMA’s biggest stage.
No word if this is a one-off or if Justino will be a regular in the UFC moving forward.
Smith, meanwhile, is an average fighter that is seen as nothing more than a sacrificial lamb to ensure Justino’s UFC premiere is a smash hit. The 33-year-old has lost three of his past five bouts, but beat Rin Nakai nine days ago.
Here is UFC 198’s current lineup:
Sergio Moraes vs. Kamaru Usman
Yancy Medeiros vs. Francisco Trinaldo
Evan Dunham vs. Leonardo Santos
Nate Marquardt vs. Thiago “Marreta” Santos
Warlley Alves vs. Bryan Barberena
Matt Brown vs. Demian Maia
Patrick Cummins vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Cris “Cyborg” Justino vs. Leslie Smith
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Corey Anderson
Anderson Silva vs. Uriah Hall
Vitor Belfort vs. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza
Stipe Miocic vs. Fabricio Werdum (UFC heavyweight champion)