The chances of the UFC booking the biggest potential women’s mixed martial arts (MMA) fight in history recently took a serious hit when Invicta FC featherweight champion Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino scrapped her plan to cut down to bantamweight for a proposed showdown with dominant UFC women’s champion Ronda Rousey.
Cyborg recently suffered a torn ligament in her ankle heading into her previously scheduled bantamweight debut at Dec. 5’s Invicta FC 10, and ultimately decided that the health risks of the drastic cut just weren’t worth it for her.
Cyborg will continue to fight at featherweight, but when she returns, she’s apparently going to take her own advice. Justino recently appeared in a fan Q&A session on The Underground, and when questioned about advice for aspiring women’s fighters, she advised them to focus on their media personalities than their actual fighting skills:
“Make a bunch of photo shoots and spend more time on Instagram and Facebook than training.”
The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 20 contestant Angela Magana apparently saw an opportunity there, posting some nude pictures online to gain somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 new Twitter followers. But after Magana lost her only fight on the show and a TUF 20 Finale bout to Tecia Torres, she isn’t exactly considered a serious contender in WMMA right now.
Cyborg is, of course, and she’s also viewed as the only true threat to Rousey’s iron grip on the championship. She’s always been viewed as hard-nosed competitor, one that has the unfortunate stigma of a previous failed test for performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).
That led Rousey to harshly criticize Justino, calling her an “It” and proclaiming that she should be arrested for attempted murder for fighting while on PEDs because she could hurt someone.
That may just be trash talk intended to goad Cyborg into a fight at bantamweight, yet it still forces her into putting forth a likable image in today’s lightning fast world of social media.
With all the critiques of her physique and demeanor, Cyborg has apparently taken a page out of her own book today (Mon., December 22, 2014) by releasing her first-ever sensual photo shoot on her website:
The photos are obviously a much different side of Cyborg than we’ve ever seen before, and a move such as this will almost assuredly gain her several new fans. It will also bring her many haters out in droves as well, but that’s something that she has most likely grown accustomed to as perhaps WMMA’s greatest heel.
Overall, it’s a great thing for Justino to release while she recovers from her unfortunate injury. Right or wrong, she’s always been viewed as a vicious brute in and out of the cage, and these pictures show that there’s a different side to the bruising champion.
Even if it’s a doctored-up stunt to persuade fans that she isn’t just a bulldozing brawler, it was the right thing to do in terms of self-promotion. Building oneself up in the press is just a part of the fight game; look at what it’s gained Irish wordsmith Conor McGregor.
While Cyborg is definitely no McGregor in terms of silver-tongued comebacks, she did take a different route in releasing her new photo shoot, and it’s one that has certainly worked wonders for both Rousey and Miesha Tate.
With her UFC status up in the air after her planned cut to 135 was scrapped, she needs to do everything in her power to stay in the limelight. Cyborg is an aging fighter who hasn’t fought since she won her title way back in July 2013. Like it or not, releasing controversial pictures like these may gain her more attention than winning an only somewhat anticipated fight in Invicta FC.
Like her, hate her, or don’t care, these pictures got people looking and talking, and that’s simply what it takes to remain relevant in today’s MMA landscape. We may never see Cyborg battle Rousey in the UFC Octagon, but the promotion would undoubtedly be missing out on a massive payday if a weight agreement were never reached.
Cyborg may be trying to make herself more marketable so fans absolutely clamor for the grudge match, which would come pre-built with a heated backstory and tons of hype. In that sense, Cyborg is “playing the game” that she urged younger female fighters to do.
It may have sounded like a joke at first, or a stab at Rousey and Tate, or both, but in the end, Cyborg knows what sells in this day and age. With a ton of time outside the cage and even more up ahead, Cyborg had to stay relevant somehow.
She did just that in a way we weren’t quite expecting at all, and whether you find these photos intoxicating or disgusting (or somewhere in between), Cyborg’s name is out in the media today.
She may wake up with way more supporters tomorrow, and she’ll almost certainly have more haters. In this fast-paced Internet world we live in, hoards of both will be welcomed with open arms for a fighter trying to promote herself with a never before utilized avenue.
Cyborg is simply adjusting to the times, and regardless of if it works out or not, her business sense is in the right place. What do you think of her provocative new photos?