Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino finally captured the one thing it looked like she may never get in her illustrious career: a UFC championship.
Cyborg won the women's featherweight title Saturday with a third-round TKO of former Invicta FC champion Tonya Evinger on the main card of UFC 214 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
Bleacher Report MMA had the official time of the stoppage:
Bleacher Report MMA @BR_MMA
Official result: Cris Cyborg def. Tonya Evinger by TKO, 1:56, Rd. 3 #AndNew #UFC2142017-7-30 03:31:42
Right off the bat, Cyborg's devastating power was on display. The former Strikeforce star landed a left hand that buckled Evinger in the opening exchange. UFC Canada captured the moment:
UFC Canada @UFC_CA
OH! @CrisCyborg strikes first at #UFC214. https://t.co/tiwOYHPu1X2017-7-30 03:16:33
From there, Evinger appeared to be fighting off her back foot. She forced a few clinches and even landed a brief takedown, but did little in the way of offense. Bloody Elbow noted Evinger's tentative approach:
Bloody Elbow @BloodyElbow
Evinger doing what she can to stay well away from Cyborg. Everything thrown off the back foot, looking for the exit route. #UFC2142017-7-30 03:14:48
Evinger is known for her toughness, and she didn't disappoint. Where Cyborg finishes most opponents inside the first round, the former Invicta bantamweight champion stood in front of her for the duration of the second round while the Brazilian stalked her and picked her apart.
Ben Fowlkes of MMAJunkie gave credit to Evinger for surviving as long as she did:
Ben Fowlkes @benfowlkesMMA
Evinger surviving two rounds against Cyborg is already better than I expected from her.2017-7-30 03:28:35
But that's all Evinger was doing: surviving. Grit and toughness can only take someone so far against the likes of Cyborg. In the third round, Cyborg landed a big knee against the fence that buckled Evinger to the ground and ended the bout.
It was a perfect display of patience, power and technical skill to kick off her title reign in the women's featherweight division.
After years of drama between the UFC and Cyborg, it felt like this moment may never come. Before the UFC created a women's 145-pound class, the question surrounding the "will they, won't they" relationship between the dominant fighter and the organization centered on whether the Brazilian could cut down to 135 pounds.
Now that it has Cyborg's native division, it could be game over.
Cyborg is quite simply violence personified. After losing her professional debut, the 32-year-old has been undefeated since 2005, with the last of her two fights to go to decision coming in 2008. Only six of her 13 opponents since then have made it out of the first round.
For all the hype surrounding Ronda Rousey during her reign as UFC champion and the building hype train surrounding Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Cris Cyborg has been devastating competition for the longest and most consistently.
Now that she has the belt, the UFC has another women's star to push.
As for what's next for the new champion, Megan Anderson remains a possibility. The Invicta FC featherweight champion has won her last four fights by knockout, was originally scheduled to fight Cyborg at the event before being forced to pull out and believes she can do the unthinkable.
"I was even more confident going into that fight," Anderson said on the Sean, Funky, & the Baddest Man podcast (via MMA Fighting). "I seen a lot more holes in her game from that footage than I saw positives. I was even more excited for the fight. It was almost like the opposite of what people said and maybe we can rematch that fight when on the card when McGregor comes back."
However, Cyborg also has her eyes set on an even bigger name in Holly Holm. The kickboxer famously beat Rousey. The idea that she could unseat another one of the sport's dominant forces is an interesting narrative.
"Since Holly Holm fought for the 145-pound belt, I believe it would be a good fight," Cyborg said, per Mike Bohn of Rolling Stone. "The fans would like it. She's a striker; she likes stand-up, I like stand-up. Why not? It could be my next fight."
After watching her dismantle yet another opponent, fans will want to see this matchup.