Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino is facing Tonya Evinger for the vacant UFC Women’s Featherweight Title at UFC 214.
Even though she is fighting for a vacant title, the Brazilian says she feels like she’s defending a title at the event.
“Actually, the way I see it, this fight to me is a title defense,” Justino said at a media event. “I didn’t lose my belt. I left it vacant. The way I see it, it will be a title defense. In the eyes of some people, it’s more valuable than the belt I already carried. But, for me, it’s yet another defense. I’ve always trained and dedicated myself as if I was the No. 1 contender, even already being the champion.”
Cyborg did hold some gold before coming to the UFC, as she is a former Invicta FC Featherweight Champion and a Strikeforce Women’s Featherweight Champion.
The Brazilian is fighting a former Invicta FC Bantamweight Champion in Evinger, a fighter that Cyborg describes as brave.
“I think that, since the UFC took so long to create the 145-pound division, most athletes signed with Bellator,” Justino said. “And that’s why the girls in my division with a bigger name are in Bellator. Some are still at Invicta, too – and I was supposed to fight one of them in Megan Anderson. But, due to lack of documents, she’s not able to fight. And her irresponsibility, too. Tonya accepted it a month before the fight, saving the event and my chance to fight. She’s from a lower division, but she’s a top-10 at 135 pounds. She just never had a chance to fight in the UFC. And she’s brave. I respect her for accepting the fight on short-notice. Like it or not, it’s a great opportunity for her to showcase her work in the UFC and, who knows, open doors for her to fight at 135.”
UFC 214 takes place on Saturday, July 29 from the Honda Center in Anaheim, California with Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones headlining. Fightful is providing live coverage of the event, with a post-show podcast to follow.