If Cris “Cyborg” Justino is to fight Ronda Rousey, it’s unlikely to be at a catchweight limit, with the latter’s striking coach insisting she has no intention of moving up in weight class.
Rousey is currently the UFC women’s bantamweight champion, fighting at the 135-pound mark. By contrast, Cyborg is typically a 145-pound fighter.
But Edmond Tarverdyan told Submission Radio (h/t Elias Cepeda of Fox Sports) that a limit between the two weights is not on the cards. He explained why Rousey used to fight at a higher weight earlier in her career but that now, if Justino is keen on the bout, it’s up to her to shred down (Warning: Contains NSFW language):
Ronda fought every time undefeated opponents in her amateur career also. Anybody that wanted to fight her, we said [to the] promotional company, 'Hey, one day before, just let us know. We'll jump into the fight.' So that's why we didn't care about the weight, whether it was 150, 148, it didn't really matter because people were not fighting her.
It was a problem for us to find people to fight her. She was ready to fight every day. And whenever she was ready to fight every day, if they gave us one day's notice — 'Hey, possible opponent, yes this person picked up the fight' — you know, we wouldn't be healthy to make 135, but we said, 'No problem.' And those girls did not do what Cyborg has done, those girls did not cheat. Cyborg has cheated. People have to understand that. And now, no f---ing exceptions. I don't want exceptions, I want it at 135.
I honestly don't understand what she's even talking about. [Justino] needs to make the weight to fight. I don't understand catchweights. I don't like catchweights. I don't understand what she's talking about [with] catchweights.
I don't even like it in boxing. There is a weight division and everybody should follow the weight divisions and fight at that weight for the title . . . Ronda is a champion at 135 right now. [Justino] has done things in her past to put fighters' lives in danger [using banned steroids].
As noted in Cepeda’s piece, Rousey has previously insisted that if Cyborg can fight at 145 using steroids, which the Brazilian tested positive for in 2011, then she should have no problem getting to 135.
The reluctance to fluctuate between weight classes would be understandable for Rousey. After all, while Tarverdyan admits that the American has previously thrived when bulked up, at bantamweight, she is at her sharpest, capable of marrying speed, power and precision all to devastating effect.
It was a perfect storm of attributes that were on show in earnest in Rousey’s last fight, when she dismantled Bethe Correia, as we can see here, courtesy of BT Sport UFC:
There’s no onus on Rousey to make any major amendments either. After all, the manner of her recent displays, coupled with her pugnacious persona, have made her one of the most recognisable sporting faces on the planet. She’s the big draw in this festering rivalry, not Cyborg.
Granted, the Brazilian does have a pedigree of her own, and in the eyes of the MMA cognoscenti, she is probably considered the second greatest female fighter of all time after Rousey. Even so, Rousey has surpassed her with her work both in and out of the Octagon.
Rousey sounds as though she’s keen on the fight, having revealed on a Reddit AMA (h/t MMA Fighting’s Marc Raimondi) earlier this week that she “would like me kicking her ass [to] be my retirement fight.” The American also claimed the main obstacle preventing a bout being scheduled is “all about money, not her weight.”
They were sentiments which Tarverdyan echoed on Submission Radio: "[Bantamweight] is the weight for the UFC title. So, she's been saying 140 or something like that, or 'the fans deserve to see the fight.' Definitely they deserve to see the fight. So, make the weight and the fight will happen. No problem."
If it was to happen, it’d be one of the most lucrative bouts in the history of the UFC. Not only would there be huge intrigue to see how each competitor handled the expectations, but Rousey’s underpinning judo skills up against the muay thai background of Cyborg would surely make for an aesthetic spectacle, too.
But it’s becoming increasingly apparent that if this showpiece is going to be staged, it’ll be on Rousey’s terms and rightly so. Cyborg has a long way to go before she scales heights comparable to the undefeated American; the best way to expedite that process would be dropping down a division and beating Ronda at her peak.