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When Cris Cyborg captured the Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s featherweight title, it almost felt like a superfight with Amanda Nunes was imminent. And after some negotiations, it’s finally happening on Dec. 29 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Let’s look back at some of the moments that have shaped the career of one of mixed martial arts’ most menacing figures.
1. Strikeforce SuperfightCyborg came to Strikeforce at a time when she and Gina Carano were among the biggest names in women’s MMA. Carano was undefeated in seven fights, while Cyborg’s only defeat was in her very first bout. Their highly-anticipated match happened on Aug. 15, 2009, and it was for the Strikeforce women’s featherweight championship. It also marked the first time women headlined a major promotion. Cyborg entered the fight a slight favorite and proved that the odds were merited. The historic bout ended with Cyborg taking the belt by beating Carano via TKO with one second left in the first round.
2. Invicta ChampionWhen Strikeforce closed its doors, Cyborg moved to Invicta Fighting Championships and was scheduled for a title eliminator with Ediane Gomes, with the winner of slated to face Marloes Coenen. But then Gomes pulled out due to an injury and was replaced by Fiona Muxlow, whom Cyborg handily defeated via first-round TKO. At Invicta FC 6, Cyborg met Coenen for the second time and the result was no different from the first, with Cyborg winning by TKO and taking the inaugural Invicta FC featherweight title.
3. Returning to muay ThaiAfter capturing the title, Cyborg returned to muay Thai, specifically at Lion Fight, where he TKO’d the previously undefeated Jennifer Colomb. She was next set to fight Martina Jindrova, but the fighter from Czech Republic was forced to withdraw because of an injury. Instead, Cyborg fought Jorina Baars at Lion Fight 14. A strong kick from Baars knocked her down in the opening frame, and it served as prelude to a brewing upset, with Baars eventually taking the lopsided decision victory. Following the setback, Cyborg went back to MMA, and with a TKO of Charmaine Tweet in her return bout.
4. Biggest Title of Them AllCyborg signed with the UFC in March 2015, and the chase for the title began. On the strength of her TKO victories over Leslie Smith and Lina Länsberg, Cyborg was awarded a shot at the vacant UFC women’s featherweight championship opposite former Invicta FC bantamweight titleholder Tonya Evinger. Cyborg folded Evinger with brutal knee strikes to win by TKO early in the third round, adding a UFC title to her collection.
5.Dismantling a Former ChampionFor her first title defense, Cyborg faced Holly Holm, who came out with a smart game plan and a ton of heart but it wasn’t enough to overcome the current champion’s aggressiveness and crisp striking. Still, Cyborg found herself in the toughest fight of her career, having gone five full rounds for the first time. She nonetheless won by unanimous decision.
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