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Invicta FC notebook: What is Cris Cyborg's future after Ronda Rousey's loss to Holly Holm?

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Holly Holm's knockout win over Ronda Rousey completely turns upside down the career paths of both women. It also greatly affects the future of Cris Cyborg.

Cyborg, the Invicta FC women's featherweight champion, is under contract with Zuffa, UFC's parent company. The contingency in the deal is that if she can prove she can make 135 pounds, she will be brought into the UFC, which only has two women's divisions: 135 and 115.

The reason the UFC signed the unique contract was that a fight between Rousey and Cyborg for the women's 135-pound belt would be one of the biggest in UFC history. Cyborg has not lost since 2005 and Rousey, before falling in stunning fashion to Holm, was thought to be an unstoppable force.

Invicta president Shannon Knapp acknowledged to Ariel Helwani on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour that Cyborg's plans might change slightly with Rousey's loss. But ultimately, the knockout artist is still on track to one day be in the UFC provided she can make 135.

"It does change some things, but I think there are a lot of different options still on the table," Knapp said. "Exciting fights that we want to see. I think Cris is focused and working her way. Whatever direction that is, she's game. She's always game to fight."

In the meantime, Cyborg will likely meet Cindy Dandois at Invicta 15 on Jan. 16 in Costa Mesa, Calif. Knapp said the bout could be Cyborg's debut at 140 pounds as she attempts to gradually get down to 135. However, the weight and even the opponent are only "tentative." Cyborg tweeted Monday that she has not signed a bout agreement for the fight to be at 140.

Knapp, who said she speaks to Cyborg's manager George Prajin almost daily, added that she does not think this will be Cyborg's final fight for Invicta, since her deal does stipulate that she must make 135 pounds before heading up to the UFC.

"Everything is always subject to change, but it is my understanding that she will continue to compete here until she drops down to 135," Knapp said.

The Dandois matchup, Knapp said, is a bit of a personal one for Cyborg. The two have gone back and forth on Twitter over the last few months. Though the UFC and Cyborg's management has input, Knapp said Invicta is the one choosing Cyborg's opponents for the most part. And the dominant champion's future in the promotion and beyond is also a joint effort.

"Everybody is aware the landscape changed slightly when Ronda lost the fight," Knapp said. "It comes down to the conversations that they have and I'm a team player. So whatever works out, it's great."

An interim champion will be crowned

Invicta 125-pound champion Barb Honchak, who has not fought since November 2014, will be stepping away from MMA for a time, Knapp said. In her absence, Invicta will be putting together a 125-pound tournament that will decide an interim champion.

Knapp said Honchak is contemplating a move down to 115 pounds and she has also had some injury issues. No fights or dates have been announced for the tournament yet, though Vanessa Porto and Andrea Lee would be obvious potential competitors.

This will not be the last time we see Honchak, one of the best pound-for-pound women's fighters in the world, Knapp ensured.

"She'll be back," Knapp said. "She has expressed interest in the 115-pound division. But certainly her taking the time to get things organized and comfortable with where she's at is important."

Notes: Invicta's next event after January will likely be in March, Knapp said. That is also the probable return date for Mexican strawweight star Alexa Grasso, who has not fought since February due to injury. ... Knapp said Invicta's new focus in 2016 will be the West Coast, which is an MMA hotbed, rather than its home of Kansas City. There has also been more talk of running events in conjunction with UFC cards. ... On The Ultimate Fighter alum Angela Hill, Knapp said she was somewhat surprised the UFC released her. Hill will meet Jodie Esquibel at Invicta 15. "I'm delighted that we get her back over here, so we get the opportunity to help her grow in her career," Knapp said. "I think she's very entertaining, inside the cage and outside the cage. Lucky for us, right?"

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