Cris Cyborg: “Now I respect the Jiu-Jitsu gang more”

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Cris Cyborg at Worlds / Photo: Dan Rod

She had her last MMA outing in June 2010. Who’d have known the down time from the cage would prompt Cristiane “Cyborg” dos Santos to stick her neck out in another playing field? Her experience at the Jiu-Jitsu World Championship, where she secured a gold medal as a purple belt, didn’t serve only as wind in the sails of a new stage in her career, it brought her new prospects.

Interviewed by GRACIEMAG.com, Cris commented on her experience in the gi, her hopes for the future – in our out of Strikeforce –, and made a promise: “I’m going to keep putting on a show.”

Check out what she had to say:

What was the process that led to your competing at the Jiu-Jitsu World Championship like? Why did you decide to do it?

I took some time off from Thai boxing for awhile and spent a month just training with (André) Galvão. He said to me, “Shoot, why don’t you compete at the Worlds?” I told him I didn’t know how to do Jiu-Jitsu properly, that I only did No-Gi. But he insisted, said I had to participate, and I agreed. I immersed myself in Jiu-Jitsu, trained in the mornings and afternoons. I started training hard and put it in my head that I had to do well at the event. I didn’t need to win, just have good matches. I put to practice some of the things I already knew how to do, the weapons I already had, like takedowns; and thank God it all turned out alright.

Cris goes for the takedown. Photo: Dan Rod.

What was it like dedicating yourself to Gi Jiu-Jitsu? Did you learn anything that could also be useful in MMA?

I learned a lot of things, and it’s really tiring. I started respecting the Jiu-Jitsu gang a lot more because it’s rough training in the gi every day. I spend most of my time training No-Gi and mixing it up with Thai boxing and MMA. But this time I was immersed solely in Jiu-Jitsu; it was cool. I learned a lot, which just makes you evolve. It motivated me, was really great for me. Now I want to participate in more and more competitions. I’ve gone without an MMA fight for some time now and competing in other sports just gets me to evolve more. I love Thai boxing, but I started liking Jiu-Jitsu a lot too. I want to become better and better at it. It’s always an experience and everything I learn will allow me to show more things in MMA.

You were in the last ADCC – were you invited to the next one?Are paying Jiu-Jitsu tournaments an option now that you’re having trouble getting MMA fights?

I might have an MMA fight coming up September in Singapore. That’s still my priority, but I want to compete whenever I find time for a competition. If I don’t get this fight in September then I really want to compete at the ADCC.

Photo: Dan Rod

So what’s your situation with Strikeforce now? You’re the champion but admit that you’ve been negotiating with other promotions. Will or won’t you be returning to Strikeforce?

I was trying to get my contract renewed but I think this whole story about Strikeforce being bought out threw a wrench in things and we didn’t reach an agreement. There was a clause saying that if I held the belt I wouldn’t be able to fight anywhere else for a year, even if the contract were over. It’s been a year now. I want to continue fighting at Strikeforce; I feel I’ve done a lot for the event, and we’re seeing what can be done. They didn’t fire me, the contract just expired; it’s sad. I’m still trying to come to terms with Strikeforce. I really want to continue, but if it doesn’t work out I’ll just keep training and fight wherever else something comes up. I’ll try and grow within another event, the event could also grow with me; I’m going to keep beating to the same drum.

Is there anything else you’d like to say about that?

When the UFC bought up Strikeforce what motivated me was the thought of having another two years there to show Dana White that there’s a place in his event for women. I’m going to forge ahead in the same battle, looking for knockouts and a place in the sport for women. It could happen that I don’t manage to get into a big event like the UFC, but I’m going to try and open doors for the up-and-coming girls. I want to thank my fans and the gang on Twitter who follow me and send me inspirational messages and even those who are hard on me too. I’m going to keep on training and won’t stop fighting. I love what I do and I’ll keep putting on a show wherever I may be.

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