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Megan Anderson, Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino are both down to fight each other at UFC 214

With the women’s featherweight division newly running, a fight between current champion Germaine de Randamie and Cristiane Justino — the ruler of 145 pounds for the last decade — seems like a slam dunk. But it hasn’t been that easy.

De Randamie has been conspicuously silent over the last few weeks, and questions remain as to where she stands with her health. The Dutch fighter said she suffered a hand injury stemming back to a fight with Larissa Pacheco in 2015, nearly two years before she took the inaugural belt against Holly Holm at UFC 208 in Brooklyn. Since then, very few details have come out as to how she is doing, and how long she expects to be sidelined.

Justino has recently asked for a fight with her at UFC 214, which is set to take place in Anaheim on July 29. Yet with De Randamie’s status uncertain, Justino’s not opposed to taking on somebody else.

One name in particular that has been thrown around with regular fervency is current Invicta FC featherweight champion Megan Anderson. It was Anderson that took over the division that “Cyborg” ruled before vacating her belt to fight in the UFC.

On Monday, the fight took on a lot more intrigue. During an appearance on The MMA Hour, the Australian Anderson talked about a potential with Justino when “Cyborg” called in.

“I am very excited about this fight, and I called out this fight a long time, because I think she’s a 145-pounder,” Cyborg said. “This fight was supposed to happen a long time again, and then no happen because her manager talked to the UFC and thought she needed more time, needed more fights. But they think this is the real fight. This is the real fight for the belt at 145.”

Asked, in reply, if she was confident a fight with Justino would happen, Anderson didn’t hesitate.

“Let’s make it happen,” she said.

Justino is considered the most dominant women’s champion in the sport, haven’t won every fight since her debut back in 2005 (a loss to Erica Paes). She was the reigning Strikeforce champion before the promotion was bought out by Zuffa, and went on to become the Invicta FC champion when she beat Marloes Coenen in 2013 for the inaugural title.

After defending the belt three times (with none of her opponents surviving past the first round), Justino fought two catchweight fights in the UFC, scoring wins over Leslie Smith and Lina Lansberg.

Traditionally it’s been rare for people to actually want fight Justino, and that’s what separates Anderson — who was adamant in wanting the bout — from the pack.

“People like to go to the media and want to fight Cyborg, but behind [the scenes], when you go talk to the manager in the other room, and then they’ll change game. If she really wants this fight to happen, and she agrees that the fight can happen, man, have to put it in the hands of the promotion so we can do this fight.”

Justino said she thought it was a fight that her fans would appreciate, given that Anderson is a true 145-pounder, rather than a bantamweight moving up.

“Man, I think it would be great,” she said. “[Anderson]’s at 145, and she’s bigger than me. And I think my fans would really like to see me fight somebody who is bigger than me. It’s my division, and I’m really happy to be back in my division to fight.”

Justino, a Brazilian who trains and lives in Southern California, wants to make her next fight in Orange County for obvious reasons. When asked if she had any information as to what’s going on with De Randamie’s belt, she said she wasn’t sure.

“I really don’t know what’s going on,” Justino said. “I really want the fight. I was supposed to fight her before, but my health wasn’t okay. Now I’m healthy and we can do this fight. And she knew. When she won the belt she knew she had to fight me. And it makes me upset.

“But I can fight Megan before, and maybe we can fight again.”

Justino even said she would make a request to the UFC to make the Anderson fight a reality.

“I will ask for her, because I think the first fight for the UFC 145-pound was supposed to me and her,” she said. “Because Holly Holm, she doesn’t fight at 145, and De Randamie doesn’t fight at 145 either. They make this fight. But that fight was supposed to be me and Megan, because we fight at 145 pounds. I hold the belt at 145 pounds, and I gave it to her because I had to vacate my belt to Invicta, but we’re supposed to fight at 145 pounds.”

Anderson echoed Justino’s sentiments on the fight that should have taken place.

“I think this fight should have been for the title in the first place,” Anderson said. “I think the UFC should have waited for Cris until she was ready to fight, and they should have matched this fight. If Germaine can’t fight, let’s do it now.”

Both agreed that the fight makes a lot of sense, and that it’s been long overdue. The 27-year old Anderson, who trains out of Kansas City and attended the UFC’s show there in April, has won four straight fights — all of them ending in TKOs. In her last fight against Charmaine Tweet, which she finished in the second-round, Anderson took home the vacated belt.

Thus putting herself on a collision course with Justino.

“Let’s make the best 145-pound fight in history,” Anderson said.

Justino and Anderson seemed to agree that this fight, in the spirit of a division with very few real contenders at the top, is the one that matters.

“I think we could do a great show July 29, and I hope Megan trains really hard,” Justino said. “It would be an amazing fight.

“I’m really happy that this has happened,” Justino said. “Because we really need people who have courage, to come and say you want to fight Cyborg. I don’t think you can choose your opponents. I think if you are champ, you shouldn’t choose your opponents. If you hold the belt, you have to fight anybody.”

One thing Anderson made clear on the three-way interview was that she wasn’t just saying she wanted a fight with Justino, just to present herself as willing. She reiterated that she really is.

“I think that the UFC comes to us and we can sort everything out, that fight will happen,” she said. “I don’t need anymore time. I’m fine for July 29, let’s do it.”

She also said that, despite both having been champions in Invicta FC, the fight didn’t have to be for a title.

“I’ll fight her regardless,” Anderson said. “I think with other divisions, if the champion doesn’t fight within a certain time they are putting up interim belts. I’m not too sure if they’d be willing to do that because there are minimal people in the division at this stage. But that’s the thing. Germaine, she signed up for the fight knowing that she could be a world champion. So, when you’re a world champion, you don’t get to choose who you fight. You choose the best, you choose the No. 1 contender. If she wasn’t ready for that, she shouldn’t have taken the fight.

“Cris and I are the top featherweights in the world. It should have been us, but it wasn’t. It’s fine, but let’s do it now.”

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