The UFC has two of the ‘baddest’ women on the planet in Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino and Joanna Jedrzejczyk. However, while building Joanna “Violence” into an MMA star, they continue to mishandle their promotion of Cyborg. Fans and media alike have reached the point where they are wondering, what in the heck is the promotion doing with one of the best Mixed-Martial Artists on the planet. The mismanagement has now reached laughable heights with two recent incidents in the last two weeks, only further highlighting how they are not helping one of their few potential stars bring in more revenue for both parties. The first failure of their most recent screw-ups was not having a fighter for her to square off with during the UFC Summer Kick-off press conference two weeks ago. They created the women’s featherweight (145lbs) division specifically to build a division around Cyborg, whose is a known commodity as a supremely talented fighter with a great international fan base. The division got built to allow women fighters who are just not physically capable to drain their bodies to the 135lbs bantamweight limit, and have a class to compete at, just like the UFC’s creation of the straw weight division (115lbs) for smaller fighters; which allowed Joanna to become a MMA star & champion. Inexplicably there has only been a single fight in the featherweight division since its creation and it was an awful foul filled title fight between Holly Holm and Germaine De Randamie. Even at the writing of this article, Cyborg is not even listed in the UFC’s own featherweight division rankings on their website. However, despite all of this mishandling, the UFC was still giving interviews that same day of the summer kick-off promotion stating Cyborg would fight Cat Zingano next at featherweight. The news she was fighting Zingano apparently came as a surprise to Cyborg, as she stated on former UFC fighter Brendan Schaub’s popular Big Brown Breakdown podcast that she was unaware she was fighting Cat, nor had she seen official paperwork to make the fight official. To add insult to injury, during this past week’s UFC fighter summit in Las Vegas, Justino showed fans on her Instagram, a UFC promotional guide that mysteriously omitted her photo while still having her name listed in the program. It’s painfully clear the UFC has either taken intentional stance to marginalize her or have coincidentally had multiple instances of incompetence in their promotion of one of the best if not the best female fighter on the planet. It’s a shame too, as Cyborg’s skill set deserves the biggest stage available and that is the UFC. With only two fights remaining on her current contract, fans can only hope the promotion wakes up and starts to promote her in a way that her skill set deserves vs the best mixed-martial artists in the world and encourages her to stay with the company long-term. I would hate to see her fighting on these lower tiered circuits all because the UFC could not get out of their own way.
Coincidentally, while the promotion was finding ways to screw up marketing their ‘real 145lbs champion’; Justino ‘literally’ took matters into her own hands to create some buzz for her brand. Along with bad promotion, Justino has long been a target or punching bag for knuckle dragging MMA social media trolls or in the case of Angela Magana, jealous mediocre MMA fighters looking for cheap laughs. Magana learned the hard way what a Dave Chappelle sketch tried to teach people a decade ago with “when keeping it real goes wrong”. Magana had previously taken unprovoked and completely over the line shots at Cyborg via social media. She went as low as to take promotional photos from a children’s charity event for sick kids Justino was volunteering at, to make a mean-spirited joke about her looks. Cyborg justifiably did not take too kindly to the insults and confronted Magana about them at the UFC fighter’s summit when their paths crossed. After a brief heated exchange, Cyborg smacked Magana upside her head to let her know disrespect has consequences, especially when you choose to make your living as a fighter. Unfortunately, Magana cowardly began to talk about suing and pressing charges, while failing to see how her own reckless actions caused the beef she started. The most ironic part of this dust-up, is this likely gave Cyborg the most positive press she’s received since joining the UFC, and it had nothing to do with the promotion pushing her brand or an actual fight in the Octagon. Fans respect real fighters, and Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino is as real as they come. She does not hide behind social media or disparage her fellow fighters, she just loves to fight and wants to do her talking in the ring with her skills. Now only if the people whose sole business model is ‘promoting real fighters’ could figure out how to market her.