CURITIBA -- Cris Cyborg will finally make her UFC debut on May 14, but it wasn’t easy for the promotion to find an opponent for the Brazilian.
The current Invicta FC featherweight champion will cut down to 140 pounds for a catchweight bout with Leslie Smith in Curitiba, Brazil, but UFC general manager in Brazil, Giovani Decker, admitted that many fighters were offered the bout and turned it down.
"We didn’t think it would be impossible (to have Cyborg at UFC 198) because we knew someone would accept the fight," Decker told MMAFighting.com during a media scrum in Brazil. "I won’t mention names because I protect the fighters, but many athletes declined. Many names, really. You can say tens of fighters. But we were positive that someone would say yes."
Decker wouldn’t reveal which UFC bantamweights turned down the catchweight bout, but current UFC 135-pound champion Miesha Tate wasn’t one of the options.
"I think that this fight will happen one day, but it wasn’t the case," Decker said of Tate. "She wasn’t a possibility. She’s the champion now and this fight wouldn’t make sense right now."