Cris Cyborg has joined Bellator MMA with her sights set on the featherweight world title

The Cyborg Nation is officially in the Bellator business. Cris Cyborg (21-2-0) gets set to make her Bellator MMA debut on Saturday as she prepares for a 'new chapter' in her life

Raz Mirza

Friday 24 January 2020 10:17, UK

Cris Cyborg and Yana Kunitskaya fight during their women..s featherweight title bout during UFC 222 at T-Mobile Arena on March 3, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Image: Cris Cyborg is preparing to make her Bellator MMA debut

MMA legend Cris Cyborg has her eyes firmly on the Bellator MMA featherweight world title at The Forum in Inglewood, California this Saturday.

The 34-year-old is a former UFC, Strikeforce and Invicta FC world featherweight champion, who is focused on claiming a fourth belt for a fourth major MMA promotion. She will make her Bellator debut against world champion Julia Budd (13-2-0) with the title on the line.

Cyborg enjoyed a 13-year winning streak in MMA before suffering just the second loss of her professional career when Amanda Nunes knocked her out at UFC 232 in December 2018.

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Cris Cyborg will take on Julia Budd for the Bellator women's featherweight championship, an opportunity she's grateful for

She rebounded with a unanimous-decision win over Felicia Spencer last July. But repeated calls for a rematch with Nunes soured her relationship with UFC President Dana White.

Cyborg soon hit the free-agent market where she received the call from Bellator president and good friend, Scott Coker, and it wasn't long before they joined forces again.

She didn't hesitate in signing for the "biggest contract in women's MMA history," according to Coker. And now she is ready to dominate the Bellator cage.

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Cyborg makes her first appearance in front of the Bellator fans

"I'm really happy and excited for a new chapter in my career," Cyborg told Sky Sports. "I now have the opportunity to fight for the Bellator featherweight world title so I feel very blessed.

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"All the girls want to fight me so I wasn't surprised when Julia Budd requested to fight me. I'm the champion for a long time and all the girls in MMA want to be the champion, so it's nothing new for me.

"For a long time in my career, I have been champion, but now I'm a challenger. A lot of girls who have called me out have been champions so this has helped give me life and helped me train hard every day."

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Budd faces her toughest test so far, when she faces Cyborg

Cris Cyborg

* Cyborg started MMA late in life at the age of 19

* Cyborg has lost just twice in 21 fights

* She lost to Erica Paes in 2005 and Amanda Nunes in 2018

Coker is a long-time advocate of Cyborg, having labelled her as "the greatest female fighter of all time".

"We worked together before. He helped me build the women's division in Strikeforce when I beat Gina Carano. And now I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to work together and see him again. I'm thankful to wake up everyday feeling blessed with the opportunity given to me," said Cyborg.

"Now I feel happy to start over again. This is a new chapter in my career where I haven't seen the end yet. I just want to enjoy every moment."

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Featherweight world champion Julia Budd will face her toughest test yet against Cyborg

Cyborg says the shock Nunes knockout defeat is very much in the past with her focus on helping Bellator develop and grow as a business.

"The Nunes loss happened then I asked for a rematch which they didn't want to give me. Everything was out of my control," she said. "In my 45th MMA fight, I lost and I wasn't champion for the first time in a long time. Sometimes you need challenges in life and I'm not going to be on top the whole time, you know."

Cage rust is something Cyborg says she won't be suffering from when she takes on Budd at the weekend and despite spending a lengthy time away from MMA she says that she has trained "really hard" and is "totally motivated" ahead of the fight.

British flyweight fighter Kate Jackson called Cyborg's signing a 'gamechanger' for Bellator MMA when she spoke to Sky Sports in December. Her comments have been met with great appreciation from the Brazilian-American.

"This makes me really happy because at the beginning of my career, there were not so many girls. It was mainly all guys. I wanted to make a change; to say girls can fight like a guy, we can be violent, we can be technical," said Cyborg.

"For sure, I'm going to do my best to help Bellator MMA grow and grow. There are a lot more girls who are fighting and there are also younger girls who want to fight. For me, this means that I'm doing the right thing and I'm going to continue to do the right thing."

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Flyweight world champion Ilima-Lei Macfarlane says Budd and Cyborg are pioneers of the sport

You can watch Cris Cyborg take on Julia Budd for the Bellator MMA featherweight world title live on Sky Sports at 3am this Saturday night on Sky Sports Mix & Sky Sports Arena.