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Cris Cyborg open to Amanda Nunes fight, but only as part of a major event

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UFC women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg isn’t completely opposed to the idea of a superfight with bantamweight counterpart Amanda Nunes.

But she’s only willing do it under the right circumstances.

Cyborg doesn’t believe Nunes has drawing power to hold up her end of the bargain in a superfight, citing the poor buy rate for her title defense against Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 215.

So if the featherweight champ is going to fight Nunes instead of a contender from her own division, she wants it to be part of a stacked, major card.

“I want to fight her on a big event, big card,” Cyborg said on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “Big card that can sell pay-per-views. Amanda, she did almost 100,000 PPV. She’s not changing my career at 145 or anything beating her, and she don’t sell pay-per-view. Okay, ‘superfight,’ she’s not [Conor] McGregor.”

While Nunes has blossomed during her run in the UFC bantamweight division, winning six straight fights, Cyborg says that Nunes, who fought at featherweight early in her career, hasn’t done much in the division to merit a title shot.

“I don’t think Amanda is a big draw,” Cyborg said. “One thing when I was world champ in Strikeforce, Amanda start training, start punching bag. They say [she was] supposed to fight 145, no. Amanda never could get close to fight for the belt at 145 in Strikeforce. Alex Davis beat her, TKO, Cat Zingano beat her. She’s had a lot of fights she’s supposed to do now, but, what has she done at 145?”

Still, Cyborg’s first preference is to defend her title against a worthy opponent at 145 pounds.

“I don’t have any problem fighting her,” Cyborg said. “But I want the UFC to invest in my division. I don’t want to only be the champ who only beat all the girls at 135. I don’t want to retire, and then I don’t see my division in the UFC because they say I don’t have the girls. I have my job, I make 140 catchweight now [featherweight]. I think I did a lot for my division. My division is my story. I owe it to my division. I can fight Amanda, I think Amanda can have that opportunity for sure, but continue somebody from 145, I think deserves the opportunity first to her.”

Cyborg also expressed frustration with the fact that, a full year after crowning an inaugural women’s featherweight champion, the company has done little to build out the division, especially at a time when rival Bellator seems keen on signing women at 145.

“The belt, 145 pounds, one year they have the belt. But you don’t see any girls fighting at 145 pounds in the division. Just to see girls fight for the belt, 145. They know I want to do this for me, they say ‘we don’t have the girls.’ They have girls. Bellator [is] signing girls 145 pounds every week. Every week girls are going to sign with Bellator. Bellator make my division very strong. Going to be big division, my division, in Bellator. This make me sad because I’m in the UFC, but I don’t have all the girls to fight. I can do superfight, but my goal is to make the division grow. ... I have three fights left, and then I’m going to be where I have to be.”

Preliminary word about Cyborg’s UFC 219 victory over Holly Holm last month is that the PPV did the UFC’s third-best buyrate of 2017, behind UFC 214 and UFC 217. Cyborg believes that with proper promotion, that number can only grow.

“I’m really happy about the numbers, but I think the numbers can be really better, if you had the promotion, like really good promotion, me and Holly. Holly is a big name. Holly beat Ronda Rousey and then she had a lot of followers. You’re supposed to have more promotion like UFC 214. Because then they make a tool for promotion of the fight. It could be better, because we just announced the fights eight weeks [in advance], and everybody focused on the fight, no have time to do all the media too close to fights too. And they should have more championship belts. And they [need] championship belts, there was just a fight one belt. At UFC 214, there were three fights for belt. But you know, it is getting there.”

With another UFC 214-like buildup -- a card which featured Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier, Tyron Woodley vs. Demian Maia, and Cyborg vs. Tonya Evinger -- Cyborg believes a bout with Nunes will be worth her while. Otherwise, Cyborg believes she can do Nunes numbers with any opponent.

“They can call this fight a ‘superfight,’ Cybog sayd. “You can fight anyone and make six numbers, you know? But okay, if [Dana White] likes to do a big event and big card, okay, let’s do July. Let’s do Las Vegas.”