LAS VEGAS — Despite freeing Cris Cyborg of any contractual ties, UFC president Dana White was not finished unloading on the former women’s featherweight champion.
Just days after Cyborg (22-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) completed her contract with a win over Felicia Spencer at UFC 240, White revealed in an interview with UFC broadcaster Laura Sanko that he had grown tired of the tenuous relationship with the Brazilian and had opted to wave all exclusive negotiation and matching rights.
The history between Cyborg and UFC includes many questionable moments and no shortage of hostility, but the true tipping point appeared to be White’s repeated insistence that a rematch with dual-UFC champ Amanda Nunes (18-4 MMA, 10-1 UFC) was not part of Cyborg’s agenda, despite her claiming otherwise.
Now that the relationship appears to be dissolved, White said he has no regrets.
“No, I wouldn’t do anything different,” White told reporters, including MMA Junkie, during a media scrum on Tuesday. “The one thing I’m glad I did was I pushed her to make sure she fought Amanda Nunes, because she didn’t want that fight the first time, let alone the second time. She wanted Cindy Dandois or Pam Sorensen. Those are the fights she wanted, and she was turning down Amanda Nunes. I said, ‘That’s not going to happen.’ So we kept pushing and pushing and pushing and finally we got her to take the Amanda Nunes fight. I’m happy I did that. Other than that I wouldn’t change one thing in the last five years on Cyborg.”
UFC president Dana White opted to wave all exclusive negotiation and matching rights with Cris Cyborg. (Photo: Ron Chenoy, USA TODAY Sports)
Even after Cyborg fought out her deal, there was still new hurdles with White. A video of a backstage conversation between the two on the night of UFC 240 was released on Cyborg’s YouTube page, but it was later revealed subtitles from the discussion had been falsely displayed.
Cyborg issued a public apology for the situation, putting blame on her production team. White recognized the apology, but it’s clear he felt wronged by a moment which fit into the frustrating theme of Cyborg’s entire octagon tenure.
He said he’s not sad to see that end.
“Dealing with her has been a nightmare the entire time she’s been here,” White said. “It’s been a bad experience dealing with Cyborg since Day 1. We brought in her after she tested positive for steroids and we made her a clean athlete with the best drug testing policy in all of sports the entire time she was here. When she talks about her legacy and her brand, her legacy and her brand, nothing’s better than knowing she’s a clean athlete after testing positive for steroids and all the negativity that surrounded her about being a dirty athlete. We bring her in here, we do all this stuff and she was just never happy.
“Never happy, complaining about everything – she was a nightmare to deal with, and at the end of the day she knows, I know, Amanda Nunes knows, I tried to make that Nunes fight. She doesn’t want it. She doesn’t want it. She gets mad when I say I don’t blame her. I don’t blame her. If that was Amanda Nunes (at UFC 240) I think everyone can agree what would’ve happened in that fight. She’s unhappy, we’re unhappy, she lies and does that thing. See ya later. Have a nice life.
“I don’t think there’s any peace between me and Cyborg. Whether you like me or you don’t like me, whatever your opinion is it doesn’t matter. What she did was dirty. It was dirty what she did with the video and all this other stuff in it. Meanwhile she’s out here saying she better get an apology from me? Yeah. I got an apology from her. Because what she did was one of the dirtiest things. It had to kill her to apologize to me. Kill her to do it. But what she did is one of the dirtiest things you can do to somebody. That’s why she apologized.”
Cris Cyborg celebrates the win over Felicia Spencer at UFC 240, in Edmonton, Alberta. (Photo: Jason Franson, AP)
Cyborg has insisted that she is more than eager to fight Nunes again, but expressed the desire to fix her relationship with White and the UFC before committing to a future with the company. It appears they will try, because Cyborg announced just minutes after White’s scrum that her team is set to meet with the UFC brass on Wednesday, though that announcement was later deleted.
White has said he would book Cyborg vs. Nunes immediately if everyone was on board, but he is convinced Cyborg doesn’t want the fight and can’t see anything that will cause that to change.
“She doesn’t want to fight Amanda Nunes,” White said. “You guys, the fans, need to get it into your head that she did everything she could, including doctoring a video, lying about what I said, to avoid fighting Amanda Nunes. The fans and the media just need to get it through your heads that all that (expletive) that was going on, ‘He’s bullying me.’ Bullying you? You’ve been here for five years. What are you talking about? You’re talking about stuff that happened five years ago. That was five years ago. It’s all a smokescreen to not fight Amanda Nunes. She doesn’t want that fight. Otherwise we wouldn’t even be having this conversation right now. I’ve had problems over the last 20 years with plenty of fighters. From Tito Ortiz to Mark Hunt to god knows who else. I can’t even think off the top of my head. We always made fights. She doesn’t want to fight Amanda Nunes.
“Amanda Nunes will knock her out again in the first round. I know it, you know it and she knows it. She will not do that fight. Period. End of story. We have gone round and round and round with her and she is surrounded by not very bright people. You can see how this whole thing played out. You have to look at this thing objectively and take out what you may think of me or the UFC and all this bull(expletive) and look at what the real facts are. The facts are all this was said and done to avoid fighting Amanda Nunes and she could walk away and look like, ‘Oh, they bullied me.’ Doctoring the video they doctored and lying and doing all the things they’ve done leading up to here. Cyborg likes to play that she’s this really nice person, she’s being bullied and all this other (expletive).”
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Is a national and foreign correspondent based in D.C. She files investigative reports and covers breaking news on a range of topics, including corruption, police shootings, etc. Before joining the TimWorld in 2018, she worked at the Miami Herald. She was a John S. Knight fellow at Stanford University.