The inevitable has finally happened.
Former UFC featherweight champion, Cris “Cyborg” Justino and former Strikeforce founder, Scott Coker have reunited once again.
Coker announced via his Twitter account on Tuesday that Cyborg has officially signed with Bellator MMA.
Welcome to the family. pic.twitter.com/BQM29cCUP3
— Scott Coker (@ScottCoker) September 3, 2019
The acquisition for the promotion will only further add to Bellator’s established roster of 145-pound female competitors—something that the UFC has failed to replicate in recent years.
After a tumultuous relationship with Dana White, things began to take a turn for the worst after Cyborg suffered the second loss of her 24-fight career in December 2018.
In the said bout, the 34-year-old would suffer her first career knockout defeat in a mere 51 seconds at the hands of UFC bantamweight titlist, Amanda Nunes. The loss would snap Cyborg’s 13-year unbeaten streak that saw her win 20 fights and titles in every major organization that she fought in. One of those being the gone, but not forgotten, Strikeforce.
The beginning of a Coker-Cyborg era.
From 2009 to 2011, Cyborg and the aforementioned Coker worked together to help bring the popularity of female athletes to a new high in MMA. With Coker now in charge as the leading man at Bellator, it will be interesting to see what the pair can do now that they’re together again.
The partnership between Coker and Cyborg has been one that differed greatly from that of Cyborg and White. The underlying factor seemingly being mutual respect.
Prior to Cyborg entering the UFC, things got off to a rocky start between her and the UFC boss after some name callings in the past. Fast forward to after the Nunes defeat and claims by White were made that Cyborg didn’t want the Nunes rematch, despite her saying publicly that was all she wanted.
Instead, Cyborg would go on to face rising divisional contender and fellow former Invicta FC champion, Felicia Spencer at UFC 240 in late July where she would get back in the win column with a unanimous decision nod.
No more UFC.
Immediately following the fight on that same evening, Cyborg and White would have a conversation backstage that Cyborg’s team would end up filming. Perhaps a little invasive as is, Cyborg would admit shortly after the footage was released that her team altered White’s captions without her knowledge.
She was already a free agent following the Spencer win, but White would then come out to address the situation and flat out say that they will not be offering Cyborg a new contract.
As one of the greatest fighters of all-time, it’s likely that the longtime featherweight ruler is better off at her new home with a familiar boss. Along with that, she has an actual division full of fighters surrounding her which is something that the UFC was never able to provide during her tenure.
It has yet to be announced who Cyborg will end up making her promotional debut against. But one thing is for sure and that is she now has plenty of options to throw her a welcoming party.
If all goes according to plan, we’ll finally get to see the long-anticipated matchup between Cyborg and current Bellator champion, Julia Budd.
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The Scrap’s Drake Riggs is a MMA writer and YouTuber based out of Brush Prairie, Washington who specializes in feature pieces, the women’s fight scene, lists, news coverage, and rankings. Riggs has been a passionate MMA fan since 2009 and has written for various news sources. You can follow him on Twitter (@Dre_Kriggs).