Cris Cyborg Is Finally Making Her UFC Debut And Here’s What It Means For The Women’s Divisions

The UFC’s big stadium show in Brazil just got a little bigger today, as the promotion has announced that Cris Cyborg will be making her big show debut on the May card. Up until this point, Cyborg has been under UFC contract, but still fighting for Invicta FC where she is the 145-pound women’s featherweight champion. The UFC doesn’t have a division above 135 pounds, leading many to wonder if Cyborg would ever make her UFC debut.

But now a date is set: UFC 198 on May 12. Cyborg will fight Leslie Smith at a 140-pound catchweight. Smith just defeated Rin Nakai via decision last week at the UFC’s latest show in Australia, and has a 2-2 record in the UFC. Considering Cyborg is the top-ranked female fighter at featherweight, and considered by many to be the No. 1 pound-for-pound female fighter in the world, Smith will have her work cut out for her.

Having Cyborg appear at UFC 198 probably isn’t just about putting as many popular Brazilian fighters onto a card with 40,000 seats to fill. Cyborg and Ronda Rousey have been engaged in a war of words for years now, with Rousey refusing to fight Cyborg at any weight other than 135. This could very well be the first step toward the two eventually fighting.

That’s all very speculative at this point, though. For now, let’s just enjoy the fact that one of the heaviest hitting women in the world is finally going to step into the Octagon, and in front of a historic hometown crowd to boot. It’s probably going to be a short and violent fight, as Cyborg fights tend to be. I’d expect a pretty persuasive call out to occur in the cage after she wins. And with a soccer stadium full of raucous fans behind her, it could be a hard call out for Rousey to ignore.