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Would Cris Cyborg Be Competitive in the Male Featherweight Division?

Once again Cris Cyborg’s dominant victory inside the Octagon has gotten us debating, this time with one of the more controversial issues yet. Our writers Jonathan Salmon and Lionel Harris-Spence tackle the issue of what Cyborg’s chances would be against male featherweights.

Jonathan Salmon: So this is one of our first one of these on Cage Potato and I’ve got a fairly interesting, fairly controversial topic to discuss. Just how the hell would Cris Cyborg do against high level male featherweight opposition? Granted, it’s a controversial issue, particularly in terms of male violence against women. But this is purely hypothetical, so if anyone is taking offense, then just simmer down and take a moment to consider what I’m talking about here.

 

I think that Cyborg has some pretty terrifying skills that would and should give any opponent some pause, man or woman. Sure, for the most part that’s not going to be true in other male versus female scenarios. If Ronda Rousey were to fight Dominick Cruz, I’ll be picking the “The Dominator” all day. But Cris Cyborg is a a completely different beast, and I say that with all due respect. If she were to contend with some of the male featherweight top fifteen, I’m sure we’d see some surprising results.

 

Lionel Harris-Spence: While I agree Cris Cyborg does have some pretty terrifying skills, and she’s an absolute beast in the women’s division, but if you put her in the land of beasts, she’ll be average, at best. Ultimately I feel Cyborg is a big fish in a small pond, and the strength advantages she has against most ladies would be neutralized if not bested in the men’s division. If you think she’s walking through Jose Aldo’s leg kicks like she did with Lina Lansberg, you’re sadly mistaken.

 

JS: Well, no one is walking through a Jose Aldo leg kick unscathed. But to me, it’s more about the accuracy of her strikes than the power she possesses. There isn’t much wasted motion in her strikes and against an opponent who she feels is a challenge, she’s likely to be more conservative and take the time to set up her attack. Now, would I pick her to beat Jose Aldo or Conor McGregor? No. Could I see her challenging a Darren Elkins? As wild as it sounds, yes I do.

 

LHS: Challenge is the key term there. If by challenge you mean make it to the 3rd round, them maybe. She could possibly go the distance with a Darren Elkins, but winning? I just don’t see it in the cards. This situation reminds me of a 20-0 boxer who has never faced any real competition, once you get in there with the big boys it’s a whole nother level. She has a hands down move forward style that makes her very hittable. While she does have power I don’t know if it will translate to her knocking out most male competitors at that weight class. She’s going to be getting hit by men cutting down from around 170 and my guess is she’ll be getting hit alot. Her movement’s not super impressive, and from what I’ve seen her advantages lie in her being so much stronger and skilled than her competition.  I’m not saying she’s not a great fighter at the women’s division, but I just see too many holes and question marks to seriously think she could COMPETE with the top 15.

 

JS: All valid points, but I do think you’re grossly underestimating Cyborg’s abilities. She’s always in position to strike, never throws herself out of her stance, and has the accuracy to make her dangerous for any fighter out there no matter their gender.

 

But that’s the beauty of these kinds of hypothetical conversations: there’s no right or wrong answer. I do think that Cyborg is certainly a special athlete who is in the unfortunate position of not having enough high level opposition to contend with in the female featherweight ranks. While Cyborg testing her grit against a male opponent is unlikely to come to pass, the idea that she may not even be able to contend with high level fighters like Holly Holm or Amanda Nunes is also extremely unfortunate. For now we can only wonder and guess how well Cyborg would do in either scenario, but if one thing is certain, she does have the skills to at least bring about these kind of what if scenarios.

So just how good is Cris Cyborg?

 

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