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Cris Cyborg Dropping to Bantamweight for Invicta FC Fight in December


(Honestly? I still think Frankie wins this one seven times out of ten. / Photo via TitoCouture)

Yesterday, Shannon Knapp announced that Invicta FC 8 (September 6th; Kansas City, MO) will be the first Invicta event to air live on Fight Pass, and will be headlined by two title fights — Michelle Waterson defending her atomweight belt against Yasuko Tamada, and Stephanie Eggink fighting Katja Kankaanpaa for the promotion’s vacant strawweight title. The card will also feature Roxanne Modafferi vs. Tara LaRosa, Ediane Gomes vs. Tonya Evinger, and the return of Veronica Rothenhausler in a 155-pound bout against Charmaine Tweet.

One notable absence from the stacked all-female card is Invicta FC featherweight champion Cris Cyborg, who hasn’t competed in an MMA bout since last July. But there’s a good reason for that — Cyborg is in the process of transitioning to 135 pounds. As MMAJunkie reports:

“Cyborg” Justino is targeted for Invicta FC 10 against a TBA opponent, Invicta FC President Shannon Knapp said. She was targeted on two previous occasions to meet Ediane Gomes before injuries and event scheduling nixed the matchup. Justino could make her second appearance at 135 pounds in February or March, Knapp added.

It’s not yet decided whether Justino will vacate her current Invicta FC featherweight title, Knapp said…A date is not yet set for Invicta FC 10, which is expected to stream live on UFC Fight Pass as part of the all-female MMA promotion’s multi-year deal with the UFC’s digital network.

To aid Justino’s drop from her natural featherweight class, at which she’s fought since battering Gina Carano to win the title in the now-defunct Strikeforce, manager George Prajin said she will work with Tony Aponte, a performance and conditioning specialist who’s worked with ex-UFC champ B.J. Penn and Heath Herring, among others.

Justino also is headed to Thailand at the end of the month to refine her striking skills and start the process of shedding weight, Prajin added. The ex-champ was outpointed by Jorina Baars in a muay Thai title fight this past March under the Lion Fight banner.

Prajin said the goal of hiring Aponte is to get Justino to a walk-around weight of 155 pounds. He said the fighter walked around as high as 180 pounds as a featherweight.

180 pounds! Mother of God! Until now, the lightest weight that Cyborg has ever competed at was her 140-pound appearance at EliteXC: Unfinished Business in July 2008, where she and Steve Mazzagatti joined forces for one of the weirdest fight-endings in MMA history. Getting down to 135 pounds will require a monumental effort, and may require to significantly alter her pitbull-like frame.

On the other hand, the payoff could be worth it. If Cyborg can prove that she can hit 135 pounds and still be effective, it’ll only be a matter of time before she’s drafted into the UFC for her long-awaited meeting with Ronda Rousey — a match that would be a hell of a lot more profitable than any that the Brazilian slugger would see fighting in Invicta.

Good luck, Cris. I don’t know how a woman who dwarfs Frankie Edgar is going to make 135 pounds, but we’re all pulling for you.

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