CRIS CYBORG EARLY DAYS OF AN MMA CHAMPION

by J. Michael Plott

To her fans around the world, she's a near-invincible fighter called "Cyborg." To her friends and family, she's known as Cris Justino. Either way, she's an MMA killing machine with a professional record of 22-2.

Even while growing up in Curitiba, Brazil, she exhibited a love of competition. In high school, she built herself into a nationally ranked handball player. During a 2004 championship, she earned the attention of another competitor's parent — that man turned out to be Rudimar Fedrigo, head instructor at the Chute Boxe Academy.

Chute Boxe is a renowned MMA gym in Brazil that started life as a muay Thai school. It's cranked out some fearsome fighters, including Wanderlei Silva, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, Thiago Silva, Gabriel Gonzaga and Anderson Silva. Scoring an invite to train there, especially from the head instructor, was an honor Cyborg didn't fully appreciate at the time.

In an interview, Fedrigo was asked why he invited the teenager to his academy. He said that while watching her play handball, he was struck by her athleticism — she appeared much stronger and better-conditioned than everyone else. All that potential was too much to resist, he said, so he offered her a free muay Thai class.

Cyborg took him up on the offer, and four months later she found herself registered for her first MMA fight. She lost via a kneebar, then bounced back and went the distance six months later against her next opponent, a far more experienced fighter. Cyborg wound up winning a unanimous decision.

The fighting phenom won her next three bouts, all via vicious KOs. It proved increasingly tough to find victims — rather, opponents — prompting Cyborg to execute a course correction and begin competing in muay Thai, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and wrestling. In 2008 she signed with the EliteXC promotion and proceeded to defeat Shayna Baszler in her first bout.

Cyborg stayed with EliteXC for another fight, then signed with Strikeforce. Her first mission was to take on featherweight champion Gina Carano. The Brazilian knocked out the American before the end of the first round. Cyborg went on to defend her title against three more opponents, winning with a knockout each time.

Much has happened in the career of Cris Cyborg since Black Belt published this piece. To read more, pick up the June/July 2020 issue when it goes on sale May 19. Order your copy directly from the Black Belt Store!

or Subscribe today and receive it before it goes out on newsstand!

SUBSCRIBE NOW!

SUBSCRIBE TO BLACKBELT MAGAZINE TODAY!
Don't miss a single issue of the world largest magazine of martial arts.

Bruce Lee's "10,000 Kicks" Challenge – Complete 10,000 Kicks in 10 Days and Feed The Children

Bruce Lee's secret to self-mastery is hidden in the following quote, "I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times." Discipline, dedication and perfect repetition over time are the keys to mastery. To get results like Bruce Lee we need to train like Bruce Lee.

Keep Reading Show less

If there's a martial artist in your life who's hard to shop for, look no further than this list of the best holiday gifts from the world's leading magazine of martial arts.

The holidays are right around the corner and there's no better time to shop for the ninjas in your family! Black Belt Magazine doesn't just provide the history and current events of the martial arts world, we can equip you with all the best products too. From beautiful belt displays, to stylish gloves, to collector's edition books, keep reading to check out this list of the top five gifts to kick under the tree this year.

Keep Reading Show less

The International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation staged its Pan American No-Gi Championships in Atlanta, Georgia this weekend though with a field missing many elite grapplers due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The women's black belt competition could only muster enough participants to fill out two of it's scheduled seven divisions.

The men's black belt competition did see multi-time IBJJF no-gi world champion Lucas "Hulk" Barbosa capture the heavyweight class while ADCC world champion Kaynan Duarte took the super heavyweight class. The two teammates from the Atos squad then met in the finals of the absolute division but disappointingly opted not to compete against each other.

Essential Gear

In this issue find some of the best essentials you need for your training!

Keep Reading Show less
Free Bruce Lee Guide
Have you ever wondered how Bruce Lee’s boxing influenced his jeet kune do techniques? Read all about it in this free guide.
Don’t miss a thing Subscribe to Our Newsletter