Cris Cyborg Destroys Opponent In UFC 198 Debut: Rousey Next?

Cris Cyborg made short work of her first opponent in the UFC at Saturday night’s UFC 198 from her home country of Brazil.

The former Strikeforce and Invicta FC Champion has been on the radar for fans of the promotion for years, with interest only increasing as Ronda Rousey began taking the sport of women’s MMA by storm.

Rousey has been accused repeatedly of hiding behind her belt and weight class while claiming that she would gladly fight Cris Cyborg (real name Cristiane Justino Santos) if the larger fighter could cut weight.

While the jury is still out on whether Rousey is too scared to face Cyborg, one thing is for certain after her debut bout: Leslie Smith shouldn’t have.

Cris Cyborg took control early in the one-round stoppage. She dropped Smith with a left-right combination before pouncing and beating out the stoppage similarly to how she has done in her previous victories.

Smith never stood a chance against her adversary. Not only was Cris Cyborg visibly stronger and in better shape, but Smith was sporting an 8-6-1 record.

Considering that Cris Cyborg has lost only once in her MMA career by submission as a very young fighter while amassing 16 victories with 14 by way of KO/TKO, it was a mismatch from the start.

Still, many fans on the UFC live results page were giving Smith props for having the guts to even step in the ring with Cyborg.

Pressure also started mounting for Ronda Rousey to do the same.

At this point in Rousey’s career, it would make a lot of sense to take the fight. There have been questions about how many more fights she has in her following a devastating knockout loss to Holly Holm at UFC 193 in November, 2015.

Rousey retreated from the public eye for a couple of weeks, missing the post-fight presser and limiting her public appearances and interviews in the months that followed.

In her post-Holm career, no one has asked her if she would consider fighting Cris Cyborg at a catchweight, nor have they asked her whether she even wants the fight.

While Holm was an experienced striker and a relatively well-rounded MMA fighter when she decimated Rousey, she was not the physical specimen of a Cyborg, who frequently wins fights by imposing her will regardless of her opponent’s skill level.

She is so physically strong that no women’s MMA fighter has been able to crack the code for years. The first and only woman to do it was Erica Paes, who defeated a 20-year-old Cris Cyborg via kneeler submission in the first round of Cyborg’s debut fight.

As a Muay Thai kickboxer, Cris has won two-of-three fights losing a decision to Jorina Baars, a woman who retired from the sport unbeaten in 2015 at 37-0-3.

Even in that loss, Cyborg looked somewhat unstoppable. While Baars scored a knockdown early, her less experienced opponent rebounded nicely and was more a victim of style and movement than getting beaten up.

In the world of MMA, there has been no woman more dominant than Cris Cyborg, and she continued that dominance at UFC 198 with a one-sided performance that ended at the 1:21 mark of Round 1.

For Cyborg’s part, she desperately wants the Rousey fight to happen. It would undoubtedly be the biggest fight in women’s MMA history, though not as big as when Rousey could make similar claims to invincibility.

With Holm falling to Miesha Tate earlier this year in her first defense of the UFC Bantamweight Championship, Cyborg is standing alone at the top.

But will Ronda fight her, and for that matter, will Rousey ever fight again? And if not, who would you like to see take on Cris Cyborg next? Sound off in the comments section below.

[Image via Cris Cyborg Facebook]