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Cris Cyborg refuses ‘face of women’s MMA’ role with Ronda Rousey gone

UFC 208 photos Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Ronda Rousey was the reason why the UFC opened its doors for women. And now that it’s unclear if she will ever return to the Octagon, that changes the way will company handle its women’s divisions.

After “Rowdy" suffered her first loss in the sport, an epic knockout against Holly Holm in 2015, the UFC promised her an immediate rematch for the gold. Holm decided not to wait for Rousey, and the belt changed hands until the judo star decided to return.

In Dec. 2016, the promotion around UFC 207 was focused on Rousey’s return against bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes, but “Rowdy" only lasted 48 seconds.

The next UFC championship bout involving women takes place July 29 in Anaheim, with Cris Cyborg taking on Tonya Evinger for the vacant featherweight belt at UFC 214. Asked if she will become the face of women’s MMA now that Rousey is gone, the Brazilian turned down that role.

"I believe women’s MMA can’t have just one face, there are several athletes in the promotion,” Cyborg said during a chat with the media on Tuesday. "What happened was, they made Ronda the face of (women’s) MMA and she lost twice and doesn’t want to come back. It’s not about one face only. When you make it about one face and she leaves, you miss it."

A former Invicta FC and Strikeforce featherweight queen, Cyborg demolished Leslie Smith and Lina Lansberg in her 140-pound catchweight bouts in the Octagon, and vows to represent “every woman” as champion in the UFC.

"We have several athletes, it can’t be just one person being the face of (women’s) MMA,” Cyborg said. "I will represent every woman with my belt there, just like every woman in the UFC represent every MMA fighter. It’s bad when you make one person the face of (women’s) MMA."

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