Though she's not yet in the UFC, Cristiane Justino is definitely on the UFC radar. And several years after her and women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey simultaneously held gold in Strikeforce, "Cyborg" is finally nearing her first trip to the Octagon.
On Friday night, the current Invicta FC featherweight champion Justino appeared on UFC Tonight and talked about all the things in her future, including the much-anticipated date with current 135-pound champion Rousey.
"I signed a UFC deal, but it will be with Invicta," she told host Kenny Florian and guest analyst Michael Bisping. "And my next fight is at 145. But you know I'm excited. I want to make my fight at 135 one day."
Justino has had trouble getting down to 135 pounds for the last year, but is still flirting with the idea of whittled down her frame for a potential super-clash with Rousey. Asked why she was confident this time around might be different than her previous attempts to get down in weight, Justino pointed to her nutritionist.
"You know, now I have a professional nutrition guy, and his name's George Lockhart, and he's helped me," she said. "He's helping me now make 145 easier. He's followed my work now, and I'll try 100 percent to make this fight happen."
Since Rousey won the inaugural women's bantamweight UFC title in 2013 at UFC 157 there has been an outcry to see her and "Cyborg" square off. The problem is that Rousey doesn't feel the need to fight Justino at any other weight than bantamweight. UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta has said that the UFC is looking at bringing Justino in, so long as she proves she can make 135 pounds. Right now that hasn't been proven.
Still, despite the divisional and promotional divides, many people regard a potential Cyborg-Rousey fight to the biggest fight in women's MMA history. One of those who see it that is is Justino herself, though for her the idea of a catchweight still holds a more immediate appeal.
"When [Rousey] was fighting at Strikeforce before, I wanted to fight her too," Justino said. "And I think she really wanted this fight, before she wanted this fight. But you know, I try 100 percent to make 135 so I can make the fight everybody wants to see. You know, it's annoying. I hear everyday, 'Ronda Rousey, Ronda Rousey'"
Asked what her goals where going forward, the 29-year old Brazilian fighter said the next step is making it the UFC...and eventually finding her way to Rousey, after the champion defends her belt against Bethe Correira at UFC 190.
"You know I think all fighters want to be in the UFC one day," she said. "I think everybody wants to be there, and of course one day I want to be the champion. But I think for now, I think it would be great for everybody to watch me and Ronda Rousey. I think it would be a great fight. I think it's more important. I have the belt already. I don't want her belt, just to make the fight happen."'
Given the opportunity to send a message to Rousey while on the show, Justino (13-1-1) still suggested a catchweight bout to give the fans what they want to see.
"Let's go fight. Let's go meet at 140," she said. "You can have this fight for my fans and your fans and make a great fight for women's MMA."