Cris Cyborg: "Pressure is something people create on themselves"

We chat to the UFC star before tonight's bout

29th December 2018

Cris Cyborg hasn’t had an easy run, despite a career full of wins. Of course, the UFC star’s (arguably unfair) reputation as a drugs cheat has blighted her for years — but the main problem right now for Cyborg is cutting weight.

At UFC 232, Cyborg will defend her UFC featherweight championship against the UFC bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes. Lack of competitors in her weight class means Cyborg has to strip up to 30lbs when she fights, or risk the bout being called off.

Despite the physical and mental stress of fighting in a weight division that isn’t her best fit, Cyborg tells The Overtake: “Pressure is something people create on themselves. This is a job and it is an athletic competition. Anything can happen, but I train so that I know my opponent is not training harder.”

When Cyborg and Nunes met publicly for the first time since their fight was announced at the UFC 232 press conference last month, the champions did not mince their words, with Cyborg warning competitor not pull out of the fight, like Nunes has in the past.

It will be a great fight for the fans

Cyborg says: “It will be a great fight for the fans. Amanda has asked for this fight and now I will give it to her.”

The pairing has been dubbed a “super fight” not only because both women are champions but both are considered the promotion’s top female stars and have yet to lose in the UFC.

Nunes made headlines back in 2016 when she defeated Ronda Rousey, ending the UFC Hall of Famer’s comeback, and she looks to make headlines again next month by becoming UFC’s first female double champion.

There were many things I had to prove just to earn the right to train with men

On the other hand, Cyborg has had a rocky path to the UFC, fighting all around the world for ten years before getting signed to the number one MMA promotion.

“When I first started training there would be 40 guys in the gym and I would be the only girl. There were many things I had to prove just to earn the right to train with them,” she says.

Since her arrival to the UFC, no one has been able to stop the Brazilian-American mixed martial artist, including former UFC bantamweight champion Holly Holm.

Cyborg explains she has been training differently for this fight: “In addition to working with Coach Cobrinha on my BJJ [Brazilian jiu-jitsu] and Jason Parillo for my boxing, I’ve added Kenny Johnson for wrestling and Nathan Corbett for Muay Thai. I have also had the chance to train with Coach K and CSA and most recently Valentina Shevchenko ahead of UFC 232, giving me some outside perspective on Amanda.

“She is a well rounded and aggressive fighter. She has struggled in the past when she has been unable to create the pressure — this fight I will be the pressure.”

It is scheduled for 25 minutes but I will try to find an opportunity to finish it sooner

The championship bout will co-main event the PPV on 29 December. The main event for the PPV sees Jon Jones returning to take on Alexander Gustafsson.

The hotly anticipated super fight has the UFC fanbase buzzing, including UFC super fan Aman Ali Shah, who says: “Well Cyborg is too big and Amanda can’t fight on the back foot. It’s going to be an interesting fight but Cyborg is retaining.”

Shah isn’t the only one to make a prediction, Cyborg tells us: “It will be a great fight. It is scheduled for 25 minutes but I will try to find an opportunity to finish it sooner.”

UFC 232 is available in the UK on BT Sports or on UFC’s streaming service Fight Pass.

Main image: Lucas Lavratti

29th December 2018