The UFC Shogun vs Henderson 2 Fight Night finished with such a spectacular main event leaving an almost unfillable void. Scrolling through the MMA news pages, bored, until a headline caught my eye. “Cris Cyborg Justino Deafeated by Jorina Baars”. Defeated? My brain didn’t fully comprehend the sentence the first time around. Cyborg Defeated? This time, my brain refused to comprehend. Unbelievable.
CYBORG JUSTINO FANS HAVE NEVER READ THOSE WORDS IN THAT ORDER BEFORE. EVER.
Friday 28th March 2014, Lion Fight promotions featured a Muay Thai kickboxing match for the womens’ welterweight title between Jorina Baars and Cyborg Justino. To us MMA fans, we would only naturally jump straight to the conclusion that this was going to be another Cyborg fight where the virtually indestructible female killing machine will power through another opponent, making tough fight hardened women look like wide-eyed bewildered bambis. But kickboxing fans who knew better would have expected the exact opposite.
The starting bell rang and immediately Cyborg Justino rushes out of her corner like a raging bull ready to impale Jorina’s tender, exposed midriff on her mighty horns. Jorina is backed into the neutral corner, a position where most Cyborg Justion victims find themselves. Cyborg Justino peppering Jorina Baars with punches, this is going to be over soon, and out of nowhere Jorina’s foot comes flying in the form of a front kick to Cyborg’s face, knocking her down and me out of my chair. At that very moment, I found myself googling Jorina Baars. Who does she think she is knocking down my Cyborg in the first minute of the first round?
I discovered that Jorina does not have a Wikipedia page.
How can that be. Anybody who is anybody has a Wikipedia page. And you would most certainly have to be somebody to knock Cyborg Justino down in the first minute of the first round.
In the other browser tab, the fight is still playing. In the background I hear the roar of a crowd going wild and Michael Schiavello yelling in his crazy Australian accent “Cyborg’s down! Cyborg’s down!” Fumbling with the keys, alt-tabbing as fast as humanly possible, Jorina had knocked Cyborg down again with a right kick to the jaw.
How can some meek, no-wikipedia page, bambi be knocking Cyborg all over the ring. Knocking her down twice in under two minutes! This only encouraged me to research harder. Oh please great gods of the internet, tell me something that will justify the beating that Cyborg is taking. Readers more familiar with the world of kickboxing will most probably be frustrated with my ignorance here. Sherdog says Jorina is 1-3 in pro-MMA. Okay there is no way someone 1-3 in MMA would be beating up Cyborg like this. An interview from lionfight.com says that Jorina Baars has a record of 35-0-3 in Muay Thai and kickboxing. The pieces are slowly falling together. Awakeningfighters.com shows that she is a Muay Thai and kickboxing champion, recently winning the 2012 Amazon of K1 Kickboxing Grand Prix. Oh and by the way, she is the 2011 National Dutch Champion. She is the 2009 ISKA World Welterweight Champion. She is the 2009 IMTF European Champion. The list goes on for much longer. In the interview on lionfight.com, she claims that she hasn’t fought Muay Thai in 3 years due to the lack of opponents that want to fight her, knowing that fighting Jorina Baars would only help to add to the “L” column. Then comes Cristiane Cyborg Justino.
But Cyborg Justino is an MMA fighter. What is she doing fighting what should be a Muay Thai legend with more than 10 belts and is 10 years younger? What was she thinking? What is she trying to prove? Does she have the same problem in MMA that Jorina has in Muay Thai? No one wants to fight her?
It’s the beginning of round three and Cyborg Justino has been knocked down for the fourth time. This time by a well-placed knee to the jaw. The knee was commendable but call me loyal, call me crazy, I was still convinced that Cyborg would win the fight. Like all her other opponents, they are brave and have a good showing in the initial rounds but will eventually fall to the mighty power punches of Cyborg. After all Cyborg is a product of the Chute Box Academy and she practices their signature style of death before defeat. This is the very fight camp that formed the humble beginnings of MMA legends such as Wanderlei Silva, Shogun Rua, and Cris Cyborg’s ex-husband Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos. Every time I picture these fighters training at the Chute Box gym, I imagine a Spartan environment where concrete was used in place of canvas. And if you didn’t do well enough in sparring for that day, a trap door would open beneath your feet and you would be dropped into a pit of wooden spikes and snakes. Mess with the best, die like the rest. Surely this type of background prepared Cyborg Justino to weather an early storm like this and come back with vicious knees, explosive take downs and to finish her opponent with devastating ground and pound….oh wait, this is a Muay Thai fight…
Cyborg Justino has had a total of three professional Muay Thai fights in her life. The first one in 2006 and the second one in September 2013. Previous to this fight, Cyborg’s toughest kickboxing competition most likely came in the form of Gina Carano, Marloes Coenen, and Jennifer Colomb. Gina Carano was a successful Muay Thai practitioner during her fighting prime, boasting a record of 12-1-1. Marloes Coenen, although has roots in submission fighting, trains at Golden Glory, a gym that trains and carries the Dutch-kickboxing tradition from Ramon Dekkers and trainer Cor Hemmers. Golden Glory is also home to notable Dutch-style kickboxing stars including Semmy Schilt, Sergei Kharitonov, Alistair Overeem, Gokhan Saki, and Jon Olav Einemo. Jennifer Colomb is an exciting Muay Thai fighter from Bordeaux, France with a 10-1 record and all victories and defeats coming by knockout or TKO. All these fighters Cyborg disposed of easily, running through them in devastating fashion, leaving a trail of blood and bruises and building a name for herself as a really really scary fighter. However, Cyborgs victories over Gina Carano and Marloes Coenen (twice) were in an MMA cage under MMA rules. Perhaps this fight adds to the perpetual debate of whether an MMA fighter would do better in the ring or a kickboxer would do better in the cage.
Jorina Baars is by far the best Muay Thai fighter Cyborg Justino has ever faced. In many ways this could be a case of way too much way too early. By the beginning of the fifth and final round, it was clear who the winner of the fight was. Cyborg Justino had put on an awesome display of her strength and toughness. Despite being knocked down multiple times, she continued to throw heavy punches all while effortlessly tossing and pushing Jorina Baars to the canvas, trying to frustrate Jorina and draw the technically superior fighter in a dirty back alley brawl. Jorina Baars showcased the experience she has accumulated over 18 years of Muay Thai. Her experience and pin-point accurate technique proved to overwhelm Cyborgs aggression.
Jorina Baars also enjoyed a sizable reach advantage over Cyborg Justino – in the legs. Even though Jorina appears to be only a few inches taller than Cyborg, her waist seems to start where Cyborgs chest is. I mean this is a leg physique that would make a Wolford model jealous. On this night, these legs were putting the exclamation on the execution of deadly knees and kicks that dropped Cyborg at least once in every single round of the five round fight. At the end of the fight, Baars and Cyborg stood in the centre of the stadium to a standing ovation. One of the judges had given Cyborg two rounds out of the five. The other two judges each gave Cyborg one round. Even though the night and the belt belonged to the superior Muay Thai practitioner (as it should), Cyborg’s aggression, strength, toughness, heart, and MMA Muay Thai won her fans and respect.
The primary question in my mind after this fight is whether the loss deteriorates Cyborg Justino’s claim for a shot at Ronda Rousey’s UFC Bantamweight championship in 2014. A fight that Cyborg has been campaigning for since 2013, a fight that Rousey has been sidestepping, and a fight that would be every fight fans dream come true. Since being stripped of the Strikeforce Featherweight championship and being released from the organization for testing positive for Stanozol in December 2011, Cyborg won gold in the 2012 IBJJF World Championships (Female purple belt division), won the Invicta FC Featherweight championship in 2013, and started competing in Muay Thai with Lion Fight. With these accomplishments and with her MMA credentials, it is almost inevitable that she must fight for UFC gold. Give the fans the fights they want!
I say let Cyborg Justino fight Ronda Rousey either at a catch-weight or for the 135 pound championship in the fourth quarter of this year. Let Cyborg go back to camp, collect her thoughts and learn from this loss. Let Cyborg learn that she cannot always rely on her strength and aggression. Learn that she cannot continue to steamroll her opponents. Let her sort out some personal issues that seem to be hanging since her December 2011 separation from Evangelista. A fight with Ronda Rousey has become even more interesting because Jorina has shown that Cyborg Justino is human and humans can lose. But when Cyborg finds herself again, when Cyborg is physically recharged and mentally in the right place, we are going to have one unbelievably scary piece of work on our hands.
Watch the full fight below