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Cris Cyborg Actually Coming to the UFC, Faces Leslie Smith at UFC 198


(Finally, the superfight that UFC fans have been demanding for years is coming together.)

Like XYIENCE energy drinks and the music of Stemm, the idea of seeing Cris Cyborg fight in the UFC has been long abandoned by the majority of MMA fans. It seemed like a very real possibility a few years back, but then Tito Ortiz went and messed everything up like the blockhead that we know him to be. Between Cyborg’s failed attempts to make 135 pounds and Ronda Rousey‘s fall from grace in the time since, the former Strikeforce featherweight champion (and current Invicta champion) has found herself with a lower stock value than possibly ever before.

But now, it seems that all is about to change for one of the sport’s scariest competitors.

This morning, UFC officials confirmed that Ms. Justino has finally booked her debut fight:

One of the most feared fighters in the world is finally making her way to the Octagon, as Invicta FC featherweight champion Cris “Cyborg” Justino faces Leslie Smith at UFC 198 on May 14.

The bout, which takes place at Arena da Baixada in Curitiba, Brazil, will be held at a catchweight of 140 pounds.

This is, obviously, a rather historic moment for both women’s MMA and the UFC. In booking its first-ever women’s catchweight bout, the UFC might just be stating its intention to eventually establish some higher female weight classes down the line. Now that the allure of not only Ronda Rousey, but the person to beat her has been shattered, we may very well see the UFC start branching out its female divisions in order to find the next “unstoppable” champion to promote to mainstream audiences.

There’s no doubt that Cyborg could be that person, in any case. She may not be “undefeated” (having dropped her very first professional fight back in 2005) or ever wind up on the cover of SI’s swimsuit edition (then again…), but Justino did kick off 2016 by defending her Invicta title for the third time in a fashion that should serve as a terrifying reminder of her capabilities. Against the 8-6-1 Smith, she will also likely have another highlight reel finish on her hands to carry into a fight with whoever emerges from this Rouse-Tate-Holm car wreck.

That’s if she actually can make 135 pounds, of course, which we’re not entirely convinced she can.

UFC 198: Werdum vs. Miocic goes down on May 14, 2016 at Arena da Baixada in Curitiba, Brazil.

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