Lion Fight 14 showcased one of the best women’s kickboxing bouts in recent history as Cris “Cyborg” Justino, current Invicta FC Featherweight, stepped into the ring against Dutch fighting sensation Jorina Baars.
In a heated contest, Justino grinded through five rounds against Baars, who dropped the Cyborg several times throughout the match. Although sports fans may have been surprised that Justino was getting tagged at various points in the fight, Baars has the experience and kickboxing background that warrants her having an advantage against Justino. Still, what surprised me was how quickly the Cyborg rose to her feet after getting hit.
Baars was awarded the decision and as usual, social media was ablaze. Several writers say Justino’s loss has nothing to do with her standing in MMA while others claim that Justino’s marketability may take a hit because of the defeat. Then there’s the one foolish journalist – i.e. me – who said that Baars could have a future in MMA. Several skeptics were quick to point out that the Dutch star is 1-3 in MMA competition. I was quick to point to out that she would always improve over time.
As for Justino, her record in MMA shouldn’t be affected at all, however, this could be something potential organizations – mainly the UFC – could use as a reason not to sign her.
But what about Muay Thai? Although she was handed her first defeat, making her record 2-1, this is in no way the end of the Cyborg’s rise in a sport that could become more popular in the United States in the next couple of years. With a few more victories under her belt, Justino could find herself back in title contention.
Personally, I would like to see Justino get back in the ring and win a world championship in kickboxing or Muay Thai.
She wouldn’t need to fight Ronda Rousey if she became the first woman fighter to win world championships in mixed martial arts and Muay Thai.