Childhood & Early Life
Cristiane Justino Venâncio was born on July 9, 1985 in Curitiba, Brazil, to Jurandir Justino and Cersima Gorete de Morais. She has a brother named Rafael who also trained at Chute Boxe Academy.
She started training handball when she was 9 years old, sometimes practicing even with the male team, and later became part of her school handball team. According to her mother, she was very calm as a child and never stayed out late to party.
In 2004, the founder and head coach of Chute Boxe Academy, Rudimar Fedrigo, saw her playing in a high school handball championship game, and offered her a card to visit his gym. While she was hesitant at first, Fedrigo, impressed by her strength and athleticism, encouraged her to become an MMA fighter.
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Cris Cyborg started her MMA career on May 17, 2005 with a first-round loss to Erica Paes via knee-bar submission at the Brazil-based Show Fight 2 promotion. She got her first win against Vanessa Porto at Storm Samurai 9 on November 20, 2005, and went on to register three consecutive wins in the first round throughout the next year.
On October 21, 2006, she faced Edna Gloria in her first Muay Thai event at Estimulo de Muay Thai in Curitiba, Paraná, which she won via KO 1:30 minutes into the game. Following her MMA fight in November 2006, she took a two-year break from professional fighting.
She resumed her MMA career in a Catchweight bout on July 26, 2008 at EliteXC: Unfinished Business in Stockton, California, and won by defeating Shayna Baszler by TKO in the second round. In her next fight, she faced Yoko Takahashi on October 4, 2008, at EliteXC: Heat, winning via unanimous decision in the third round.
In early 2009, her bout with Dutch submission specialist Marloes Coenen at XMMA 7 was cancelled as Elite XC went out of business, following which she signed to fight for Strikeforce, which acquired Elite XC. Despite being overweight for her debut Strikeforce fight against Hitomi Akano on April 11, 2009, at Strikeforce: Shamrock vs. Diaz, she entered the fight with her opponent’s approval and won via third round TKO.
She next faced Gina Carano at the inaugural Women's Featherweight Championship on August 15, 2009, at Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg, the first major MMA event headlined by women, in San Jose, California. She won the fight via TKO with one second to spare in the first round, and stated after the match that she was honored to fight Carano.
Her first title defense against Marloes Coenen was delayed following an injury to Cyborg, and was later rescheduled on January 30, 2010 at Strikeforce: Miami. She successfully defended her title by defeating her opponent via TKO at 3:40 minutes of round 3.
Cris Cyborg’s next prospective challenger Erin Toughill left Strikeforce before the fight could happen, which resulted in her fighting Jan Finney at Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Werdum on June 26, 2010, which she won via TKO. She renewed her contract with Strikeforce on August 25, 2011.
She faced Hiroko Yamanaka at Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Masvidal on December 17, 2011, earning a TKO win just 16 seconds into the first round, following which she was named “the Mike Tyson of female MMA”. However, in January 2012, after CSAC announced that she had tested positive for banned stanizol metalobites, the result was cancelled, she was stripped off her title, suspended for one year, and was fined for $2,500.
After Strikeforce ended operations in early 2013, she signed a multi-fight deal with Invicta Fighting Championships, and made a successful return against Fiona Muxlow at Invicta FC 5: Penne vs. Waterson on April 5, 2013. Her next fight was against Marloes Coenen for the inaugural Invicta FC Featherweight Championship at Invicta FC 6: Coenen vs. Cyborg on July 13, 2013. She became the first Invicta FC Featherweight Champion by winning the fight via fourth round TKO.
Participating in a Muay Thai event against Jorina Baars for the inaugural Lion Fight Women's Welterweight Championship at Lion Fight 14 in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 28, 2014, she lost via unanimous decision. Returning to MMA, she successfully defended her Invicta Featherweight title against Charmaine Tweet via first-minute TKO at Invicta FC 11 on February 27, 2015.
Her last two fights at Invicta FC were against Faith Van Duin on July 9, 2015 and against Daria Ibragimova on January 16, 2016, both of which she won, defending her featherweight title. She then signed with the UFC and made her promotional debut with a win against Leslie Smith via TKO at UFC 198 on May 14, 2016.
She next won her catchweight bout against Lina Länsberg at UFC Fight Night 95 on September 24, 2016 and was slated to face the first UFC Women's Featherweight Champion Germaine de Randamie. However, Randamie refused to fight her citing her past drug use record, and was stripped of the belt for not fighting Cyborg.
She fought Tonya Evinger for the vacated title and won the UFC Women's Featherweight Championship at UFC 214 on July 29, 2017, following a TKO win in the third round.