Dana White: UFC is 'out of the Cyborg business'
- Jan-Jaap Abbink
The relationship between the UFC and its former featherweight champion Cris 'Cyborg' Justino appears to be done.
In an interview released on the company's YouTube channel on Friday, UFC president Dana White declared he is "out of the Cyborg business" and will waive any contractual matching rights he owns on one of the biggest stars in female mixed martial arts.
"I'm going to release her from her contract and I will not match any offers [she receives]," White said. "She is free and clear to go to Bellator [MMA] or any of these other promotions and fight these easy fights she wants. Done. Done deal. I will literally, today, have my lawyer draft a letter to [Justino's team saying] that she is free and clear."
White's statement effectively eliminates any hope of a rematch between Justino (21-2) and two-weight champion Amanda Nunes (18-4). Nunes claimed Justino's 145-pound title in December, in a shocking 51-second knockout victory. White has repeatedly claimed Justino doesn't want the rematch, which Justino has accused him of lying about.
Justino, 34, fought out her UFC contract less than one week ago, at UFC 240 in Edmonton. She defeated Felicia Spencer via unanimous decision.
In an appearance on Ariel Helwani's MMA Show earlier this week, Justino demanded White apologize publicly for "bullying" her in the past and damaging her brand. Even before White's comments on Friday, Justino said she intended to test free agency and field offers from other promotions. Apparently, she is now legally free to do so.
Justino's team did not immediately respond to request for comment.
The relationship between the UFC and Justino began in 2013, when the UFC signed her to a promotional deal that allowed her to fight in the all-female promotion Invicta FC. Justino made five appearances in Invicta, before transitioning to the UFC in 2016.
It's been a rocky pairing, to say the least. Justino has repeatedly pointed to one moment in 2014, when White said she looked like "[male fighter] Wanderlei Silva in a dress and heels." Just this week, Justino re-posted video of that interview on her social media.
"I'm suffering bullying," Justino said this week. "Where is the code that you don't do this? He is the boss. How does the boss make fun of your athlete? It's a girl, say she has a penis, she's a guy. You have to have rules. This is not right. I have a daughter, I have a mom, I have a dad. My daughter had a problem in school already because of this."
White disputed Justino's perspective on the matter in the interview posted on Friday, and said his comment from 2014 was connected to a drug test Justino failed in 2011, and has been widely taken out of context.
"[Former UFC champion] Ronda [Rousey] said, 'That woman has taken so many drugs, she's not a woman anymore. She's an it,'" White said. "Once she said that, I was doing a media scrum and was asked about Ronda's comments.
"I said to the media, 'Did you see her at the MMA awards? Did you not think she was on steroids?' ... I was saying she looked like Wanderlei Silva in a dress, what I meant was she had the same physique as Wanderlei Silva. And one month later, Wanderlei Silva evades a drug test and gets a three-year suspension from the sport."
Originally from Curitiba, Brazil, now fighting out of Southern California, Justino is tied with Valentina Shevchenko as the No. 2 pound-for-pound female fighter in the sport. In addition to MMA, she has expressed interest in accepting a professional boxing match.
Despite Justino's apparent departure from company, White said the UFC will continue to promote the 145-pound female weight class.