Very few fighters have accepted a matchup with featherweight terror Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino much less campaigned for the opportunity to face her but that’s exactly what Megan Anderson did to land the fight at UFC 214 on July 29.
It was announced on Monday that the UFC would restart the women’s featherweight division with Cyborg vs Anderson serving as the co-main event to the highly anticipated card also featuring Daniel Cormier vs Jon Jones in the headliner.
Anderson didn’t fall into the title shot by accident after she was crowned Invicta FC featherweight champion earlier this year, but she also took additional steps by asking for the bout numerous times on social media while her management team did everything possible to negotiate for the matchup with Cyborg behind the scenes.
Anderson’s unwavering willingness to not only fight Cyborg but also telling anyone who would listen that she desperately wanted the chance to beat her proved that she was cut from a different cloth than numerous other competitors who wanted nothing to do with her.
Former champion Germaine de Randamie was ultimately stripped of her title because she refused to face Cyborg. Ronda Rousey also put up a fight for years arguing against a potential showdown with Cyborg while she was reigning as champion in the UFC.
So why exactly did Anderson run towards the fire when so many other competitors have seemingly gone in the exact opposite direction whenever Cyborg’s name came up?
“She’s human like everybody else,” Anderson told the Fight Society podcast after the fight was announced. “I think a lot of people go into that fight fighting Cyborg the name and they’ve already lost before they’ve got into the cage. I don’t give a [expletive] about how many followers she has. I don’t give a [expletive] about how much reach she has.
“She’s a human being and I have no doubt come July 29 everyone who’s doubting me will find out how human Cris Cyborg can really be.”
Anderson also revealed that it was only a few weeks ago that the UFC told her that the fight was not happening, which is why she ended up booking a title defense in Invicta FC on July 15. Then a few days later, the UFC came calling with the official offer for the Cyborg fight, which is exactly what she wanted all along.
“Not even six hours after I handed in my bout agreement for that fight [in Invicta FC], the UFC called,” Anderson said.
“I’m very excited when I finally got the call. It’s what we’ve been wanting for a really long time and I think this is a really great step forward in the direction for the division.”
Of course there’s also some frustration from both Anderson and Cyborg that it took this long for the UFC to pull the trigger on this matchup. Part of the anger surrounding the repeated delays in getting the division going have to do with de Randamie winning the title in February and then immediately announcing that she would be out of action with a hand injury for an undetermined amount of time.
Add to that, de Randamie then proclaimed that she wouldn’t fight Cyborg and that her intention was to return to the women’s bantamweight division instead. Through all of that uncertainty, there was no clear plan from the UFC that the promotion even intended to move forward with the featherweight division much less crown a new champion.
“I think she really held up the division,” Anderson said about de Randamie. “I really don’t consider Germaine a natural featherweight and she knew she was going to have to give up a lot of size going up against legitimate featherweights. I think she didn’t want to come up against someone who’s going to have a lot of size advantage over her.
“I understand her reasoning behind [not taking the fight] but the rules aren’t what she’s wanting them to be. So you have to fight the top contenders regardless whether six years ago Cris had [tested positive] for performance enhancing drugs or not. She doesn’t get the choice. You’re the champion, you fight the number one contender. ”
Thankfully the UFC not only decided to keep the division but booking Cyborg vs Anderson on one of the biggest cards of the year seems like a sign that 145-pound women will have a home in the Octagon for some time to come.
Anderson appreciates that everything finally came together and now she has the chance to face Cyborg on the biggest stage with everybody in the world watching.
“I’m really grateful that this fight is happening on such a big scale that the UFC is and I feel that’s the platform this fight deserves,” Anderson said.