Cris ‘Cyborg’ Talks Ronda Rousey, Cut to 135, Lion Fight 14 Title Fight
By Lion Fight (via press release)
Las Vegas, NV – Everywhere you look in Fightland these days all you see is LION FIGHT title contender Cyborg, Cyborg and more Cyborg.
“Cyborg Calls Out Ronda Rousey”
“Cris Cyborg Announces Move to 135, Plans to Retire Ronda Rousey”
Such headlines bring a smile to the face of “Cyborg,” real name Christiane Justino, who battles Holland’s Jorina Baars at Lion Fight 14 (March 28 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas). After a dark period that saw the one-time MMA Female Fighter of the Year suspended for steroids, stripped of her Strikeforce title, divorced from her husband and trainer, and deprived of big-money fights, Cyborg’s suddenly appears ripe for redemption. A popular perception is that Ronda Rousey has mowed through the best female fighters in UFC – leaving Cyborg as the greatest threat to her throne. It’s a fight fans have craved (in vain) for the past three years. But can Cyborg – who typically walks around at 170 pounds between fights – make weight at 135 pounds? Even if she does, would shedding so much muscle compromise her notoriously ferocious fighting style? And is that mega-fight fantasy really ever going to happen?
The 28-year-old Brazilian, who can be as gracious outside of the cage as she is fiery inside it, addressed these questions and more during a 45-minute interview to promote her upcoming Muay Thai pro title bout against Baar. Cyborg, who hails from Curitiba (the same city that has produced Anderson Silva, Wanderlei Silva and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua among many other thrilling fighters), is truly a renaissance woman in the fight world. She is 12-1 (1 NC) in MMA, 5-0 in Muay Thai (including a 3rd round KO over previously unbeaten Jennifer Colomb at Lion Fight 11), and has won two IBJJF world championships.
The interview with Cris “Cyborg”:
How many Muay Thai fights have you had in your life?
I’ve had two professional fights and three others in Brazil and I won them all. But with my Chute Boxe team we train every day hard and spar hard so that has made me strong. I’m trying to train Muay Thai now because I want to grow my game.
Your Lion Fight will be at 145 pounds. What do you know about Jorina Baars?
She’s from Holland and is very experienced, she’s had a lot of fights. She’s taller than me and it’s a great fight for me because I like to fight good opponents. Because that’s what makes a good fight. I’ll be ready.
A recent headline of a story said, ‘Cyborg says she will retire Ronda Rousey just as she retired Gina Carano.’ Did you make that statement?
Yes because, you know … I never talk about Ronda. In one interview, one year ago, I said, ‘I will talk about Ronda when we sign a contract for the fight.’ Because I don’t like talking about a fight. I like training and I like action. But you know, she always talks stuff about me. All this time she speaks my name (in interviews) … This time she said I didn’t want to fight her, that I’m tired, and that I’m only looking for a pay day. I don’t care about money. If I cared about money I would already be fighting in the UFC. I’m a true fighter and people who know me know that. Fighting is my life. In Brazil I fought Muay Thai for free. So for her to speak about me just wanting to fight her for money – no, no way. She doesn’t know me. I want to fight her because she’s never respected me and always talks about me. But it’s nothing personal. I don’t think she’s a true fighter because she speaks too much. I think good fighters don’t speak too much, they do their talking inside the cage.
What is your opinion of Ronda Rousey as a fighter?
She’s a good fighter. Her standup has gotten better. She used a good plan against (McMann). The other girl (McMann) is a wrestler and she probably wanted to take her down so Ronda used her elbows and knees and standup and that was a good plan.”
Ever met Ronda personally?
What is your opinion of the way Ronda carries herself publicly?
That’s a hard question. When she talks I don’t know if she’s a fake (acting) or if she’s speaking the truth. I can’t say for sure because I’ve never met her and don’t talk to her. I only know her from what I’ve read in interviews and what she said during interviews. She’s a good fighter but I think she speaks too much. But I don’t know if it’s a game that’s playing so I can’t judge her. I don’t really care because, for me, the sport is inside the cage. I try to be myself and I don’t like to be fake. It’s not my style. My style is to make a show inside the cage – that’s where I like to be aggressive. But outside I don’t like talking too much. I like being with my family and friends. Inside the cage I’m Cris Cyborg. Outside I’m Cris.
Is it difficult to see Rousey gain so much attention when you are not fighting in the UFC and haven’t been able to fight her?
I don’t care. I’m happy that girls are now fighting in the UFC. When I started training my focus was to grow women’s MMA. I’m happy to see us girls on the big stage.
Why are you the fighter to beat Ronda Rousey?
I’ve never chosen my opponents. When I was the champion of Strikeforce and I always wanted to fight her … I’ve waited so long for this fight … It’s not my style to say that I’m going to win for sure. I just want to get this fight and put on a good show for my fans. A lot of people want to see this fight.
How do you see the fight going?
Everyone who’s seen me fight knows I go for the knockout. I’ll use the same style – I won’t change anything. For me, I’m going to use punches and kicks and knees and go for the knockout. She could try to turn to her jiu-jitsu but I’m ready for that – I train with Andre Galvao and I’m a brown belt (two-time world champion at purple belt) so I’ll be ready for any situation.
Do you think Ronda could armbar you?
I can’t say ‘Ah, she’ll never armbar me.” And I can’t say for sure, “I’ll knock her out.” But I will be ready for any situation.
You kind of disappeared for a year and a half after your suspension for steroids. Tell us about that time.
That was a difficult period for me but I learned a lot; it helped me grow as a fighter and as a person. I never thought, “Why did this happen to me?”
When you win, when you’re famous, a lot of people are close to you. When you lose or you’re not champion anymore or bad stuff happens to you, then you see which people are truly with you. That was good because it allowed me see who I can trust. Now I know who’s with me and who I can trust.
Do you prefer training with men?
Yes, I prefer training with me. I’m using to be the only girl in the gym with all guys. Training with guys makes me stronger. I like to train hard every day in the gym because how you fight in the gym, you will fight the same during a real fight.
Did you admit to using steroids after the positive test in December 2011?
Everybody knows what happened. I used (them) to lose weight. Whenever I fought in Strikeforce and other fights I was tested. People say, ‘She’s always used something.’ No, never. People say that because they don’t respect the (athletic) commissions.
I didn’t use them to make me strong. Because when I tested positive … I used it because I had a hard time losing weight. I made a mistake and I said I was sorry to everybody. But it makes me sad when people say, “She’s used (steroids) for all her fights.’ This is a lie. I’ve always been tested for all my fights. And I was tested by the California commission, which is very good.
Now that Tito Ortiz has stepped aside as your manager, are you one step closer to signing with the UFC?
I met Tito during a hard time in my life and he helped me. He’s not my manager any more but he’s still my family, my friend. He talked to me personally and it made me really sad … He stepped away because he doesn’t want to interfere with anything … when he stepped aside he showed me that he really liked me because he doesn’t want to create any problems for me. I respect him so much for doing this and we’ll still be friends and train together.
But I do think it has opened the door (for me to go to UFC). The door had been closed but now it’s open.
Do you expect to be fighting in the UFC by the end of 2014?
My goal is to make 135 pounds by December. I have doctors helping me. Before I didn’t want to talk much about this because I wanted to make sure I could make the weight. I will try to make 135. I have time and I’ll try to make it and still be healthy and strong. Nothing is impossible when God is with you. It will be hard but I think I can do it.
I have already changed my diet starting in diet. I have three more Muay Thai fights this year (with Lion Fight promotion) and one more fight with Invicta. I will be busy this year because I need to lose weight.
I weigh 155 pounds of muscle. I don’t have much fat. Losing fat is easy, but for me I have to lose muscle because I am a very heavy girl. But I have a good plan and a good diet … I will try to make 135 but still keep the same (fighting) style.
What weight do you normally walk around at when you don’t have a fight?
170, 165. Sometimes 175.
To make 135, what diet changes have you implemented?
I eat good carbohydrates for energy, a lot of salads, a lot of veggie bowls and juices. I eat every two or three hours.
Before I ate a lot of the same things but more. Now I eat less but more times per day.
Which fighter out there – male or female – most closely resembles your style?
I’ve been compared to Wanderlei Silva and that’s an honor because he’s a great fighter and a national hero in Brazil. And people always want to watch him fight because his fights are always exciting. I think I fight a lot like him – because whether he wins or loses, he fights with heart.
Will you be the same fighter at 135 pounds?
I think so because I have a great diet and a great team behind me. The diet may change my body, but my heart and mind won’t change. Because I was born with this. You can’t give somebody heart. You can teach someone to punch, but you are born with heart. That won’t change.
You are one of many great fighters to come out of Curitiba. What’s in the soil there that produces so many great fighters?
Yes, we have Anderson Silva, Wanderlei, me, Shogun (Mauricio Rua), Ninja … and so many more. Maybe we have so many good ones before because of the Chute Boxe gym and we trained so hard.
Do you think the fight between you and Ronda Rousey will ever happen?
Yes. I don’t know when but I think it will happen because all of the fans want this fight.