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Cris Cyborg felt like a ‘slave’ in the UFC, now she’s truly happy as Bellator champion

Cris Cyborg never wants to lose, but haunted by the memories of her tenure with the UFC, she’s a much happier person now as Bellator champion.

On Saturday night, Cyborg returned to The Forum in Inglewood, Calif. where she defeated Julia Budd to win the 145-pound women’s title. It was the same location where she suffered a shocking first round knockout to Amanda Nunes in her second to last fight with the UFC.

Returning to the same location 13 months later, the 34-year-old Brazilian can’t exactly say that she’s upset with the way things played out with Nunes back in 2018, because without that happening, she may have never been able to join the Bellator roster.

“When I lost that title, I got out of the cage, I was not feeling sad,” Cyborg explained when speaking to reporters after her win at Bellator 238. “I’m speaking real. I feel like something got off my back. I walk over there I did an interview, I know all the walls have the writings, I remembered every single part [of fighting at The Forum]. I did the interview, and I was not sad.

“I feel like everything happen for a reason. If I not lost that belt that day, I was not here now champion in Bellator. Here I’m happy. There I was not happy. I was working, I feel I was a slave, and I was not happy. Here I’m happy, something I choose to be.”

Her volatile relationship with UFC president Dana White cemented the end of her run with the promotion. But that allowed her to then seek out an old friend in Scott Coker.

Coker is now the Bellator president, but he was previously in charge of Strikeforce, the organization that helped launch Cyborg into stardom after she became champion with a memorable victory over Gina Carano in 2009.

Just over a decade later, Cyborg celebrated another championship win while exorcising some old demons by winning her belt in the same place where she lost the UFC title.

“When I came here and heard I was going to fight at The Forum, I said God is amazing,” Cyborg stated. “I lost my belt here, I [came] back here and fight, I got a title. I worked really hard for this fight. I always work hard and I feel happy to have the opportunity and make history. This is going to be the only fighter to get four titles.

“It just means we never quit. It doesn’t matter how hard it is during your career, I had a lot of downs, good times in my career but I don’t quit. It makes me strong. This is what I like to show my fans. Don’t quit. Make it strong and it’s hard. It’s hard every time.”

According to Cyborg, the preparation for this fight definitely wasn’t easy after she suffered a broken nose just two weeks out from the event. She ended up wearing a protective mask to get through the rest of her training camp before securing the fourth-round TKO to topple Budd and become champion.

Now with the title around her waist, Cyborg says she’s ready to face whoever Bellator puts in front of her, and she’s just anxious to stay busy while working for a company she truly respects.

“I’m really happy to work with Bellator,” Cyborg said. “This is my new home. A new era. I don’t have any problems around. The boss wants to work with the fighters. I don’t have any problem. Just very thankful to be here working for Bellator.”

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