Ukrainian sensation Daria Ibragimova will take on a living legend in Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino as they clash for the Invicta FC Featherweight crown. Let us see what the odds makers are hanging on this one and cash a ticket.
Daria Ibragimova (9-1, 1 KO, 7 Subs)
The 31-year-old Daria Ibragimova has 10 MMA fights under her belt yet she has been plying her trade in mixed martial arts since 2009. Until recently Ibragimova moved in much smaller MMA circles but her star began to shine at the end of 2014 when she was pitted against sterner competition and not only handled them but devoured them. Ibragimova has an impressive pedigree that includes sambo, sumo and wrestling where she is a full on predator when the fight hits the floor.
The question concerning Ibragimova's ability to contend with the likes of a champion like Cyborg is of course her stand-up game where she has only one KO to her credit. The Ukrainian grappler has incorporated boxing into her repertoire and feels Cyborg's devastating power will be neutralized by her balanced attack. When asked if her striking game can compete with one of the world's best females she had this to say.
“I believe in it, but it is not my goal,” Ibragimova responded. “I think my strength is on the ground.”
Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino (14-1, 12 KO's, 0 Subs)
It has been well over 11 years since Cyborg lost her first and only fight. Since then she has dominated women's MMA like no other, with the notable exception of the recently deposed Ronda Rousey. The big money match and hotly anticipated showdown between the two titans of female mixed martial arts has been tarnished irreparably with Rousey's stunning loss to Holly Holm. If and when Rousey regains the title this is still a fight many will clamor for but no doubt a bit of the bloom is forever off this rose as is Rousey's aura of invincibility.
But enough about Ronda Rousey this is all about Cyborg's defense of the Invicta FC women's featherweight title. Since winning the inaugural Strikeforce Women's Featherweight Championship with a punishing win over glamour girl Gina Carano back in 2009 the only woman to last longer than two rounds with the champ is Marloes Coenen who did so twice but suffered a TKO loss in the third round of their first match and another in the fourth round of their last meeting held in July of 2013. Since that battle Cyborg punished both Charmaine Tweet and lastly Faith Van Duin on July 9th of 2015.
Anything can happen at any time and nothing is a lock. Back in 1990 Buster Douglas shocked the world when he knocked out Mike Tyson as a 33-1 underdog. Most recently Ronda Rousey got her first bitter taste of defeat when the UFC odds makers installed her as a -1200 favorite and all those chalk eaters got KO'ed right along with her at the hands of a Preacher's Daughter.
Therefore to arbitrarily and blindly back Cyborg in your sports picks as a towering favorite is not a recipe for long term success. Particularly when you consider that Marloes Coenen is the fighter who most closely resembles Ibragimova with an extensive freestyle wrestling and BJJ background. Both are mat technicians and Cyborg's domain is knocking opponents out while standing up not scoring points on the ground in fights that morph into chess matches.
The big question is just how good is the relatively unknown Ibragimova? Physically she looks soft and that will do her no good in a five round championship fight. If this does indeed go the distance I cannot imagine a world in which the champion does not emerge victorious. Ibragimova will be bruised, battered and bloodied while Cyborg's intense cardio conditioning will allow her to go all day and night.