UFC president Dana White fired the latest salvo in his ongoing feud with Cris Cyborg in a video released by the company on Friday. White spends a good portion of the 17-minute video defending himself against accusations that he has bullied Cyborg, before stating quite clearly that he intends to release the 34-year-old Brazilian from her contract.
In the video, White attempted to shoot down reports that he has a bad relationship with Cyborg, characterizing his history of going after the fighter as the duties of a promoter trying to “put on the best fights with the best fighters in the world.” He then states that UFC is “out of the Cyborg business,” effective immediately:
Message received. I get it. I’m going to release her from her contract. I will not match any offers. She is free and clear to go Bellator or any of these other organizations and fight these easy fights that she wants. Done. Done deal. I will, literally today, have my lawyer draft a letter to her team that she is free and clear to go wherever she wants.
White’s claim that he’s releasing Cyborg from her contract is misleading; her unanimous decision victory over the previously-undefeated Felicia Spencer at UFC 240 was Cyborg’s last contracted fight with the company anyway, although it was expected that both sides would come to the negotiating table to keep her in UFC. Given that this is White we’re talking about, stating that he’s going to release—or, really, “not renew”—Cyborg from her contract could just be a tactic to further depress her value in a new deal.
Cyborg has raised that very concern—that White’s incessant claims that she’s scared of a rematch with Amanda Nunes have hurt her brand—multiple times, most recently in her post-fight press conference after beating Spencer:
If White is serious, however, and Cyborg is officially done as a UFC fighter, then Bellator could be next: President Scott Coker has made it clear that she would have a home there. While getting away from White and UFC might be best in the long run for Cyborg, it would be a shame to not get the hotly anticipated rematch with Nunes, after Cyborg’s shockingly one-sided 51-second loss back in December.