Former UFC champ Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino signs with Bellator

Cris "Cyborg" Justino. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

LOS ANGELES — Former UFC featherweight champion Cris (Cyborg) Justino has signed with the Bellator promotion.

Bellator announced the move Tuesday to acquire one of the most accomplished fighters in women’s mixed martial arts history.

The 34-year-old Justino (21-2, 1 no-contest) went unbeaten in 20 fights over 13 1/2 years during an MMA career that began in 2005. After joining the UFC in 2016, she won its inaugural 145-pound belt in July 2017.

But Justino lost her title to two-belt champion Amanda Nunes last December in a stunning 51-second knockout defeat. Justino has feuded openly with UFC president Dana White in recent months, and her UFC contract ended in July.

Bellator president Scott Coker ran the Strikeforce promotion when Justino was its 145-pound champion.

Bellator’s current featherweight champion is Julia (The Jewel) Budd. The 36-year-old from Port Moody, B.C., has successfully defended her title three times since claiming it in March 2017 with a win over Marloes Coenen.

"Cyborg is the most dominant female fighter in the history of the sport and she will be a perfect fit here at Bellator, where champion Julia Budd and the other women that make up best female featherweight division in the world have eagerly awaited her arrival," Coker said in a statement.

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