Justino vs Leslie Smith Set For UFC 198

Published on March 28th, 2016 3:01 pm EST

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Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino will make her long-awaited debut against Leslie Smith at UFC 198 on May 14th, 2016. The card, which will take place at the Arena Atletico Paranaense in Curitiba, Brazil, will also feature the likes of Anderson "The Spider" Silva, Vitor Belfort and Fabricio Werdum.

Justino, who is the defending Invicta FC Featherweight Champion and the former Strikeforce Women's Featherweight champion, has been trying to fight her way into the UFC for years. The problem? The UFC only has 115 and 135 pound divisions for women, and Cyborg usually fights at 145 pounds. In order to accommodate Justino, the UFC has made her fight against Leslie Smith at a catchweight of 140 pounds.

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Cristiane Justino saw her stock fall tremendously after testing positive for stanozolol in December of 2011. Following the UFC's purchase of Strikeforce, Justino was forced to sign a deal to fight in Invicta FC, where she proceeded to win five straight fights. Somewhere along the line, Justino signed a deal with Zuffa, LLC that allowed her to fight in Invicta, with the thought that Justino would eventually make her way to the UFC for a mega-fight against Ronda Rousey.

Justino tried to goad Rousey into a fight for years, though Rousey and the UFC were steadfast that the former UFC Women's Bantamweight champion would not be moving up in weight to fight "Cyborg". "Cyborg" and her team, on the other hand, argued that 135 pounds was not a safe cut for Justino. So, "Cyborg" remained on the outside looking in, and the fight between "Cyborg" and Rousey never happened (at least not yet).

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The UFC has other plans for Ronda Rousey as of right now, as Rousey will likely be squaring off against Miesha Tate later in the year, likely in the main or co-main event of the promotion's first card at Madison Square Garden.

This leaves "Cyborg" without a high profile dance partner for the moment, which is why she will be squaring off against Leslie Smith at UFC 198. It makes sense that the UFC and "Cyborg" are likely going to see how she performs at 140 pounds before making the cut all the way down to 135 pounds, which is where the money fights against Miesha Tate, Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm lie. As mentioned, there is no 145 pound division for the women as of this moment, so "Cyborg" will have to cut down to 135 if she wants to fight for a title.

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Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino will likely open as a heavy, heavy favourite against Leslie Smith, especially given that she will be fighting in front of her hometown fans in Curitiba.


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