Though she hadn't been seen in a Bellator MMA cage in about 18 months, Cris "Cyborg" Justino showed she is still as dominant as ever — and with the retirement of Amanda Nunes, why she may be the best female star in women's MMA.
Justino didn't need long to take out rival and fellow women's MMA pioneer Cat Zingano, scoring a first-round finish to retain the Bellator women's featherweight championship in the co-main event of Bellator 300.
Zingano looked to get on the attack right away, throwing leg kicks, though her one high kick and takedown attempt in the opening minute were both countered by Justino. Justino tagged Zingano with a couple of hooks early. Zingano came in again just under two minutes into the round and got rocked by Justino's hands, turtling up, though she came back to her feet.
Justino landed some solid right hands on Zingano. Zingano went in for another takedown but was stuffed by Justino, who pounded away with brutal shots from up top until the referee stepped in, declaring a first-round TKO.
Following the fight, Justino called out Leah McCourt, who won her fight against Sara McMann on the prelims. The fight was confirmed to be the next featherweight title fight, with Justino expressing interest in the fight being held in Japan, where she could retire.
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This marked Justino's first fight in Bellator since April 2022. Justino had spent some time as a free agent and made her professional boxing debut in the time since. Justino has been the Bellator women's featherweight champion since making her promotional debut at Bellator 238, defeating Julia Budd for the title. Since then, she defended the title against Arlene Blencowe (twice), Leslie Smith and Sinead Kavanagh.
Zingano entered this fight 4-0 in Bellator since making her promotional debut in 2020 after a four-plus year stint in the UFC. Zingano's track record in Bellator so far had seen her defeat Gabby Holloway, Olivia Parker, Pam Sorenson and Leah McCourt.