Germaine de Randamie Should Be Punished for Running from Cyborg Justino

Scott Harris@ScottHarrisMMAMMA Lead WriterMay 30, 2017

Germaine de Randamie
Germaine de RandamieFrank Franklin II/Associated Press

There are always reasons why. People give and receive excuses all the time. It's one of the things that human beings do to get along with the other human beings. But there's a layer, not too far below the epidermis, where excuses become something different. 

Did the dog eat it? Maybe you'll be washing your hair that night? Perhaps you hear your mother calling.

It's not a matter of believability at that point. You're not actually trying to convince anyone of anything. Rather, the point is to get the request or the requester to do one thing and one thing only: go the hell away.

At this point, let's welcome Germaine de Randamie into the conversation.

You may know de Randamie (7-3) as the first person ever to hold the UFC women's featherweight belt. To do so, she defeated Holly Holm—in a bout that saw de Randamie take heat for illegally striking Holm after the bell not once but twice—in February at UFC 208.

In the cage immediately after the fight, de Randamie said of Holm and her stick-and-move, clinch-heavy strategy: “It was close. But I came to fight, and she didn’t want to fight me."

Moments later, broadcaster Joe Rogan asked de Randamie the million-dollar question, the one to which everyone just kind of assumed a foregone response. Did she, the new women's featherweight champ, want to fight the consensus best women's featherweight fighter, Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino?

"You know, I want to fight everybody," she said. "If Cris Cyborg is the one I have to fight, I'll fight her. Right now, I really need surgery on my hand. I'm gonna get surgery on my hand, and let's see after."

Not exactly the emphatic response fans and UFC brass (not to mention Cyborg) might have hoped for, but fair enough. Injuries happen. Fix it and come back strong, champ.

Oh, but wait. What's this? One day later—one day later!—de Randamie called for an immediate rematch with Holm.

“I have nothing but respect for Holly and the UFC, and because of that I want to say right now that I think I owe it to Holly and the fans to do this fight again to make sure that the winner of this historic belt is crystal clear,” de Randamie wrote on Instagram.

No mention of Cyborg. Or the hand, for that matter.

Eventually the UFC booked Holm for a June bout in Singapore. So much for that immediate rematch. Team de Randamie countered by mumbling about retirement rumors and "personal issues."

A few hardy GDR believers, clinging to hope like kittens to fallen trees in a flood-swollen river (don't worry, they were rescued), might have gotten excited when UFC President Dana White said on May 15 that an update on the situation was coming soon and that "Cyborg will fight this summer." Could Cyborg-GDR finally be in the works?

That hope was all but dashed Thursday, when de Randamie's manager, Brian Butler-Au of SuckerPunch Entertainment, told MMA Junkie that de Randamie would not fight Cyborg because Cyborg was "a proven cheater."

That's an interesting statement from Team de Randamie. Yes, Cyborg failed a drug test in 2011, but de Randamie was caught—you know, on camera—punching Holm after the horn just last February.

Cris Cyborg (top)
Cris Cyborg (top)Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

Ah, but the dog must have eaten their footage.

The final blow landed Monday when de Randamie announced that she—despite holding the 145-pound featherweight belt—would return to 135 pounds.

“My reason to reject the fight now has nothing but nothing at all to do with my fear,” she wrote. “I believe that if you want to do sports you do this without any means that can affect the muscle mass. I—as a top athlete—always trained, always watched my food and put 18 years of my life on sports, without using just one means that is not allowed.”

Another reference to Cyborg's past PED use. Plenty of other fighters have come back from a failed drug test to compete again. Is there some reason that Cyborg is different? And if she felt so strongly about this principle that she would give up her championship belt—the one that caused her to shout out loud for joy when she received it—why didn't she mention it at UFC 208?

Any attempt to look behind the curtains at UFC headquarters is like trying to read tea leaves in a glass of cement. However, it is not unrealistic to speculate that the UFC has incentives for champions to defend titles and placed a fairly substantial offer on the table for de Randamie to defend against Cyborg. GDR-Cyborg could headline a pay-per-view. That's a lot of money. (At a bare minimum, title defenses land you in the highest slots of any card, which in and of itself increases pay.)

Certainly Cyborg (17-1-1) is feared for a reason. She's probably the most devastating MMA fighter—man or woman—on planet earth right now. 

De Randamie chose not to rise to that occasion, essentially relinquishing her championship so Cyborg could face Megan Anderson or some other more willing competitor—anyone but her.

Whatever happens with de Randamie moving forward, the UFC should discipline her. Go ahead and strip her of the belt. Then perhaps banish her to the matchmaking land of wind and ghosts. Let her test the latest judo import on a deep Sao Paolo undercard. Should they cut her outright?

The UFC should be upset. Its brand-new division, fresh out of the gate, is now tarred with illegitimacy. Its first champion wouldn't fight the best. What kind of cloud does that put over this division, and over Cyborg, whom the UFC appears to (finally) view as the marketable, dominant athlete that she is?

It's more than just the one division, though. The UFC has devalued its own belts enough with all these interim titles—interim this and interim that—essentially printing money from its own press to add short-term excitement to a division or an individual bout while causing harmful inflation over the long run. The UFC doesn't need fighters expediting that process.

Now, one might say, "Easy for you to say, keyboard warrior. You're not out here fighting for a living." And that's exactly right. If you're not a fighter, there's no pretense of toughness, at least not on this level. That illustrates why de Randamie, for whom such a pretense does exist, particularly given her champion status, should no longer be taken seriously, at least not unless there's a redemptive action.

As it is, it's like being a chef who doesn't like fire or a construction worker who doesn't like dirt or a kid with a dog who's unceasingly hungry for looseleaf.