Unblocked: Cris 'Cyborg' Justino Basking In Glow Of UFC Gold
Cris "Cyborg" Justino reached the pinnacle of any MMA career on July 29 at UFC 214, when she finally became a UFC world champion by finishing Tonya Evinger to claim the promotion's featherweight belt.
The triumph was also a statement for the many critics Justino amassed over the years -- two of whom were inside the cage when she received the belt last month: UFC President Dana White and commentator Joe Rogan.
While White has publicly talked about Justino's alleged doping in the past and criticized her for business decisions, Rogan received heat when he joked about Cyborg having testicles on his podcast. Ironically, the first of the two put the belt around Justino at UFC 214, and the latter interviewed the Brazilian after she was declared the winner.
"At that moment, I really thought about talking [about the controversy]," Justino said. "But this was my moment, and I think [Rogan] interviewing me there and Dana White putting the belt around my waist was already an answer. He didn't have to say anything else. I think they reflected and didn't need to spoil the moment that was so special to me. It was a normal [post-fight] interview and I don't say that we'll be friends, but he'll do his job and I'll do mine."
Cyborg's relationship with White hasn't been the best for some time. But while White even said in the past that he blocked Justino on his social media accounts so he wouldn't have to deal with the fighter, it seems that the two are slowly making peace.
"He already unblocked me, yes," Justino laughed. "I think a lot has happened between Dana and me. He even admitted that he made a mistake with Cris Cyborg. Only the person who says he or she has made a mistake can open the door for improvement. I think it touched me and that's fine. Let's work together and we'll both be happy."
Having won her third fight in the UFC, again by way of technical knockout, Justino has plenty of reasons to be happy. But despite her impressive streak and the dominance that has fans wondering who might be able to stop her, Justino still thinks she has more to show inside the cage.
"I showed my work a little more to my fans," Justino said of her third-round finish of Evinger, the first time since 2013 that she needed more than two rounds to end a fight. "Of course, I wanted to finish her as soon as possible, but she was a tough athlete […]. Everybody thinks I have no ground game, but I'm a brown belt [in Brazilian jiu-jitsu]. Who knows, next time, [maybe] I can show my skills on the floor and my complete game."
So, where does Cyborg go from here, atop a new division that has only featured a small handful of fighters, most of whom usually compete one weight class below at bantamweight?
That's a question Justino herself can't answer definitively right now.
"We have not talked about [renewing the contract] yet," she said. "I believe that after my next fight, we'll sit down and talk."