Earlier this week it was announced that former UFC featherweight champion Cris Cyborg had signed a new deal with Bellator MMA following a brief period as a free agent.
The Brazilian last fought in April 2022, defeating Arlene Blencowe to defend her Bellator featherweight title. The win was her fifth in the promotion following her arrival in early 2020.
So who will be next for the Brazilian veteran? For a lengthy period, the general consensus has been that former UFC bantamweight title challenger Cat Zingano would be the best opponent for Cyborg.
Zingano most recently took to the cage in March and defeated Leah McCourt via unanimous decision.
Prior to the bout, ‘Alpha’ addressed rumours that she’d been “ducking” Cyborg by stating that she couldn’t duck an opponent who didn’t actually have a contract with Bellator.
“She’s not even with the promotion, so I don’t know how to duck someone. She just tells me to sign a contract, but she has two contracts to sign to even get back in the promotion.”
Now that Cris Cyborg has signed a new deal with Bellator, though, she’s been quick to call out Zingano, again alluding to the former UFC title challenger trying to avoid the bout.
“Day 1,015 waiting on @CatZingano to sign the @BellatorMMA bout agreement.”
In a reply to a fan who claimed Cyborg would “maul” Alpha, the Brazilian replied again.
“She’s out asking for interim belts but now that I’m back is quiet as a mouse.”
Given that Cris Cyborg’s new deal was only announced this week, it’s likely that Zingano may agree to their fight in the near future, assuming that it’s the bout that Scott Coker and company will look to book.
Cris Cyborg vs. Cat Zingano – Why did this fight not happen in the UFC?
Given that both Cris Cyborg and Cat Zingano spent time in the UFC prior to joining Bellator MMA, it’s probably worth asking why they never fought in the octagon.
The biggest reason for them never facing off is probably because Zingano largely competed as a bantamweight during her tenure, while Cyborg fought almost exclusively as a featherweight or in 140lbs catchweight bouts.
‘Alpha’ did move up to 145lbs for her final bout with the promotion, which came against Megan Anderson in December 2018.
Zingano was defeated via TKO in the clash, while Cyborg lost her UFC featherweight title to Amanda Nunes on the same night.
Cyborg fought once more for the UFC in mid-2019 before departing as a free agent. At the time, Dana White stated that he was happy to be “out of the Cyborg business”.
In turn, the former champion has not been shy of criticising the promotion. Although Cyborg did claim in 2022 that she no longer holds a grudge against the UFC president.