Cris Cyborg: The Forgotten Pound-For-Pound Beast

Cyborg Santos Cris Cyborg is back. But it’s not like she ever really left. The former Strikeforce women’s featherweight champion and the newly-crowned Invicta FC featherweight champion, Cyborg put on one of the most dominating performances of 2013 this past weekend when she beat the daylights out of Marloes Coenen en route to claiming Invicta’s first-ever 145-pound title with a fourth-round TKO stoppage. It was Cyborg’s second-straight win in Invicta, and it upped her MMA record to 12-1 (1 NC), one of the most impressive marks in any weight division in female MMA. But it’s that 1 NC that really hurts Cyborg, and it’s the reason why I believe Cyborg has been forgotten in all of the pound-for-pound talks despite her utter dominance in the cage. In Dec. 2011 at Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Masvidal, Cyborg took on Hiroko Yamanaka and she needed only 16 seconds to win the fight via brutal knockout. But she tested positive for steroids after the fight, was suspended by the California State Athletic Commission for a year, stripped of her title, and it seemed as though many of her fans turned on her. In men’s mixed martial arts, some of the sports top stars like Alistair Overeem have tested positive for banned substances but instead of everyone forgetting about them, these drug suspensions ironically only served to make them more popular. With Cyborg, though, her testing positive for steroids pretty much had everyone throwing her under the bus and discounting what she had accomplished in her career up until that point, and she basically fell off the map for 16 months as she didn’t fight between Dec. 2011 and April 2013. But since returning to the cage, Cyborg has actually looked even more destructive — something I didn’t think was even possible after her utter dominance in Strikeforce — as she’s taken out Fiona Muxlow and Coenen with ease in Invicta. The performance against Coenen was especially impressive as Marloes is one of the best female 145 pounders in the world. But for four rounds Cyborg made her look like she belonged in the minor leagues as she used her ridiculous Muay Thai attack to batter Coenen around the cage and, when she wanted to show off her strength, threw Coenen to the ground with some of the most brutal slams I’ve seen in a very long time. But the most impressive thing about the performance against Coenen was, to me, the fact that Cyborg’s cardio held up even just fine even though she was expending a tremendous amount of energy trying to finish Coenen from bell to bell. It was the kind of performance that showed once again Cyborg is not just one of the best female fighters on the planet, but one of the best pound-for-pound fighters, men included, and I truly believe that. Yes, that positive drug test definitely hurts her, but let’s be fair here: she hasn’t tested positive for anything since and she’s looked even better than she did before she was caught. Cyborg is a fighter who many have forgotten in the pound-for-pound talks because she’s fought only five times in the last three years. But make no mistake about it: this is an elite mixed martial artist, the best female fighter in the world, and one of the best regardless of gender. And, at only 28 years of age, she’s only going to get better. Scary.

Written by Adam Martin.

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