After years of rumors and offers, UFC officially announced today that Cris "Cyborg" Justino will make her debut at UFC 198, set for Saturday, May 14th at the 42,000 seat Arena de Baixada in Curitiba, Brazil.
The Invicta featherweight champion will face Leslie Smith in a 140 pound catchweight fight. Justino usually walks around in excess of 170 pounds.
Up until Holly Holm defeated Ronda Rousey in November for the UFC women's bantamweight title, a Rousey vs. Justino fight may have been the biggest fight for PPV business that could have been done in MMA.
UFC has attempted to make the fight since the end of 2012, and was looking at it for the debut of women's MMA with the promotion, but Justino wouldn't sign the eight-fight deal offered because she believed it was not as good as the deal UFC had offered Rousey.
Since that time, attempts to make that fight have been futile because Rousey has been insistent on fighting her at 135 pounds only, consistenly pointing to Justino's prior failure of steroid tests. Justino has talked about dropping weight slowly to where she'd finally get to 135, and even hired well-known nutritionist George Lockhart to help. However, those plans to fight at 140 or 135 never materialized, and when Rousey lost to Holm, Justino said that she would no longer attempt to make 135.
Smith is coming off a win over Rin Nakai on last week's show in Brisbane, Australia.
Cat Zingano, who had been rumored for the fight, confirmed on Friday's Inside MMA show that she wasn't going to be the opponent. She said she had a big fight scheduled that she was excited about, but had to wait for UFC to announce it, but teased it would be about the time of her birthday (July 1) which happens to be eight days before UFC 200. She also said it would not be a title fight with Miesha Tate, who she has previously beaten.