Bellator’s president announced on Tuesday that Cyborg has signed what the promotion termed as the “largest contract in women’s MMA history.” Cyborg became a free agent after the UFC opted not to re-sign her following the expiration of her previous deal, ending (perhaps permanently) a rather tumultuous relationship between the two sides.
“I have worked with countless athletes over my thirty-plus years of promoting combat sports, but there is no one quite like ‘Cyborg’,” Bellator President Scott Coker said. “Her ability to excite the crowd from the moment she makes her walk to the cage is special, and having had the pleasure of promoting several of her fights in the past, I am looking forward to the opportunity of promoting her once again. ‘Cyborg’ is the most dominant female fighter in the history of the sport and she will be a perfect fit here at Bellator, where champion Julia Budd and the other women that make up best female featherweight division in the world have eagerly awaited her arrival.”
Cyborg (21-2, 1 NC) previously reigned as Strikeforce champion when Coker was in charge of that promotion, and eventually became UFC women’s featherweight champ in 2017. Her reign ended in shocking fashion last year when she was knocked out by Amanda Nunes at UFC 232. She returned to the Octagon earlier this year, dominating Felicia Spencer in the UFC 240 co-main event.
Dana White, who was adamant that Cyborg wanted no part of a Nunes rematch (despite Cyborg wearing a shirt that literally advocated for a rematch), declared that the UFC as “out of the Cyborg business.” Cyborg and her team didn’t exactly help themselves with this doctored video or White’s conversation with Cyborg backstage at UFC 240.
While details of Cyborg’s next fight have not yet been revealed, it feels almost inevitable that her first bout in the Bellator cage will be against reigning champion Julia Budd.