Cris Cyborg will have a massive decision awaiting her in 2019 after her showdown against Amanda Nunes at UFC 232.
The reigning and defending UFC women’s featherweight champion will have only one fight left on her current contract with the promotion after her fight is finished on Saturday night.
With UFC President Dana White calling the matchup between Cyborg and Nunes the biggest fight in women’s mixed martial arts history, it’s undeniable the value the Brazilian champion brings to the organization.
At the same time, the UFC has never actually built a women’s featherweight division around Cyborg, opting instead to find opponents to face her specifically whenever it comes time for a title defense. Nunes, for example, is the women's bantamweight champion, and she is moving 10 pounds north for this fight with Cyborg.
Add to that, Cyborg has admittedly engaged in a tenuous relationship with White over the years both before and after joining the UFC roster.
If Cyborg is victorious at UFC 232, it definitely puts her in an advantageous position when it comes time to negotiate her next contract.
“After my fight with Nunes, my management will sit with the UFC and discuss what is next,” Cyborg told FloCombat. “Counting Dec. 29, I have two remaining fights on my UFC deal, and am hopeful my new management can help repair the relationship on both sides.
“My team will do their due diligence before we decide which direction to head next.”
Prior to her fight at UFC 232, Cyborg signed with Paradigm Sports Management — the same team that represents former two-division UFC champion Conor McGregor, Tony Ferguson, Michael Bisping, and numerous other fighters on the same roster.
From the sound of things, Cyborg will allow her managers to handle the talks for her next contract, but obviously she would be a highly sought free agent if she actually fought out her current deal with the UFC.
That may be part of the motivation for the UFC to engage in negotiations immediately after Saturday night’s event is finished so there’s no chance Cyborg ever hits the open market.
While there’s still no word on the UFC adding more fighters to the weight class, there was an additional featherweight fight added to UFC 232 just in case a replacement was needed for the Cyborg vs. Nunes fight.
Former title challenger Cat Zingano will take on Megan Anderson on the UFC 232 prelims, and the winner of that fight could potentially be primed to face either Cyborg or Nunes with a victory.
Cyborg, who pushed for the potential replacement fight at UFC 232, is excited to see what unfolds. But whether that produces her next opponent remains to be seen.
“I am glad to see the UFC booked Megan Anderson vs. Cat Zingano on the card,” Cyborg said. “I have waited nine months for this fight and if something happens to Amanda Nunes, it is nice to know Megan Anderson is ready to go as a replacement. For Nunes, she has spent time moving up to featherweight and if something happens to me, I think the fans would still be interested in a rematch with her and Zingano in the new weight class.
“I think it's for the fans' protection that replacement fights where fighters agree on the opponents are in place.”
For now, Cyborg will remain laser focused on her fight against Nunes on Saturday night, but she definitely has an interesting 2019 ahead as she once again ponders her future in fighting.