Cris Cyborg has ended her free agency.
The former UFC featherweight champion has inked a deal to join the roster at Bellator MMA where she will team up with her former Strikeforce promoter Scott Coker again.
The Bellator president made the announcement on Tuesday while stating that she inked the ‘biggest contract in women’s MMA history’.
“I have worked with countless athletes over my thirty-plus years of promoting combat sports, but there is no one quite like ‘Cyborg’,” Coker said in a statement. “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.”
“I’m very excited to announce that I’m partnering with Scott Coker and Viacom and fighting in Bellator,” Cyborg said. “You guys know I have a lot of girls I want to fight at 145 pounds and this means you’re going to have a lot of fights per year and I’m very happy about that!
“My goal is to be the only female fighter is holding four different major titles in the same division.”
It didn’t take long for Cyborg to begin fielding offers after her time with the UFC came to a close following her win over Felicia Spencer in July.
That fight served as the final bout on Cyborg’s UFC contract, but the promotion still held an exclusive negotiating period to attempt to re-sign her. Instead, UFC president Dana White opted to completely release her from any obligation remaining in her contract while announcing that he had no intention of signing her to a new deal.
That brought to an end a tumultuous relationship between Cyborg and the UFC that started when she was fighting under the Invicta FC banner.
When Cyborg finally joined the UFC roster, she competed in a pair of catchweight bouts before a featherweight division existed. Once the UFC added a 145-pound weight class, Cyborg went onto become champion with a third-round TKO against Tonya Evinger in July 2017.
She went onto defend the belt two more times before suffering a stunning 51-second knockout loss to Amanda Nunes in a champion versus champion showdown at UFC 232. Cyborg then returned for the fight against Spencer before reaching the end of her contract with the UFC.
Now she re-teams with Coker at Bellator MMA where he’s built a thriving featherweight division with Julia Budd as the reigning champion.
Coker helped bring Cyborg into the spotlight when he was the president at Strikeforce. He promoted her blockbuster fight against Gina Carano in 2009 that was the most-watched MMA event on Showtime at the time with the event peaking at more than 850,000 viewers during the main event.
There is no word yet on when Cyborg will debut, but it’s likely she’ll jump right into the deep end of the 145-pound division with Budd previously stating in an interview with MMA Fighting that she welcomed the challenge.
“I think it would be amazing,” Budd said back in July. “She’s been a force to be reckoned with at 145 [pounds] for a long time. Me as a martial artist, I always want the best challenges so I would be excited for that fight for sure.”