Dana White is saying all the right things about what’s next for Cris Cyborg.
This past weekend saw Cyborg defend the women’s featherweight championship with a commanding unanimous decision over Holly Holm in the main event of UFC 219 and the outcome raised questions as to who could possibly challenge Cyborg next. The 32-year-old Brazilian is undefeated in 20 consecutive bouts since suffering her lone professional loss in May 2005, and the UFC’s current 145-pound roster is non-existent.
Both Holm and the woman Cyborg defeated last July to win the inaugural title, Tonya Evinger, moved up from 135 pounds to fight Cyborg.
Next up could be another bantamweight, as White told Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports that his plan is to match Cyborg up with fellow champion Amanda Nunes.
“First of all, Amanda Nunes wants to fight her,” White said. “Amanda Nunes wants to fight Cyborg. That is the fight to make and that is the fight I will make. That’s the fight. Amanda Nunes is a big, strong, powerful puncher. I think she matches up very well with Cyborg too and I think that’s a fun fight and that’s the fight to make.”
Nunes is on an impressive streak of her own, having won six consecutive bouts including first-round finishes of Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate, and Sara McMann. “The Lioness” also holds two decision wins over top contender Valentina Shevchenko, though their second bout this past September was a tepid affair that Nunes took by a split call that left a poor impression on fans and critics.
That leaves Nunes short on options for now (though Raquel Pennington is positioned as the presumptive No. 1 contender) while the bantamweight division rebuilds itself, and White believes both she and Cyborg are amenable to a matchup for Cyborg’s belt.
“Cyborg wants to fight so we’ll get her a fight as soon as we can get it done,” White said. “As soon as Amanda can prepare and get ready for this fight, we’re ready to roll.”
In the past, neither Nunes nor Cyborg have sounded thrilled with the prospect of fighting each other. Nunes wanted to fight for the women’s featherweight championship when it was held by Germaine de Randamie, but she told the media last May that she was less interested in a bout with Cyborg.
Cyborg was asked about Nunes following her win at UFC 219 and she too expressed reluctance about the pairing, citing the fact that Nunes was a fellow Brazilian. However, she did say that she’d be willing to fight Nunes if that was White’s decision.
If his comments Thursday are any indication, the UFC president has made up his mind on the matter.
“When you’re the world champion, it doesn’t matter if you’re fighting a Brazilian, a German, a Puerto Rican, a friggin’ Cuban, whoever,” White said. “You fight whoever comes and tries to take your belt from you.”