It’s always good to remember that a promised title shot in the UFC doesn’t mean much until the cage door closes. The winds of fate are fickle, and the climate around UFC champions can change a lot in a couple months.
The latest shift in atmospheric pressure comes following UFC 222’s title bout between Cris Cyborg and Yana Kunitskaya. Cyborg predictably demolished yet another opponent, leaving her once again bereft of challengers. To solve the problem, afterward, she did a little of her own matchmaking, calling out Amanda Nunes.
The two women had been making noise about a potential champion vs. champion superfight either at UFC 224 in Rio de Janeiro, or this summer at UFC 226. Instead Cyborg ended up getting booked for UFC 222 – after Holloway pulled out of his bout with Edgar – and discussions of a bout between Amanada Nunes and Raquel Pennington for UFC 224 followed soon after.
But, with Cyborg walking through Kunitskaya and taking little damage in the process, Dana White teased that he may be willing to re-shuffle the deck a bit and get to that Cyborg vs. Nunes bout first.
“I think I will,” White told the assembled media when asked if he would try and get the fight booked, adding that he’d consider trying for the Rio event date. “I mean, she just fought, so once the adrenaline goes down, she’s got to get checked out and make sure she’s 100%. And I just think her and Nunes is the fight that needs to happen.”
“She’s a beast,” White continued, speaking of Cyborg. “The fight to make is her and Nunes. That’s the fight that needs to happen. Nunes wants the fight, she wants the fight, I want the fight, I’m sure the fans want to see it, too. So we’ll get that one going.”
However, while both women sound like they’re interested in making the fight happen, Cyborg herself doesn’t seem bullish on the idea of returning to action that quickly.
“I don’t know,” Cyborg replied, when asked about fighting on the May PPV card. “But, for me, I think it’s going to be too soon. Because I’m going to Brazil and then I have a lot of things to do. I’m going to adopt and bring my niece with me, and it’s going to be at the end of March. And I accept this fight [against Kunitskaya] because it’s the beginning of March and it continued into my plan. But I don’t know, let’s see. It’d be exciting.”
All of which could mean that Pennington gets left out in the cold; either to wait until Nunes vs. Cyborg is done and dusted, or to take another potential top contender’s bout. It’s too soon to tell, after all the dates may just not line up, but it’s hard to deny that Cyborg vs. Nunes is the fight for both women right now.