(This story first appeared on usatoday.com.)
With plenty of buzz about MMA fighters such as Anderson Silva and Quinton Jackson crossing over to box against Roy Jones Jr., there’s another crossover that will happen first.
Former Strikeforce women’s featherweight champion and current Invicta Fighting Championships titleholder Cristiane Justino will venture into the world of muay Thai.
“Cyborg” has signed on to face renowned kickboxing champion Martina Jindrova at Lion Fight 11 on Sept. 20 in a fight that will air on AXS TV. Justino did some muay Thai work in her native Brazil years ago, but this will be her first elite-level experience in the sport.
“Obviously, I like to compete,” Justino told USA TODAY Sports by phone Tuesday. “In Brazil, I competed in muay Thai. It’s good experience for my game and a good opportunity for me. I like to always keep training in jiu-jitsu and standup, and now muay Thai. This will be a good experience.”
Justino (12-1 MMA) won Invicta’s inaugural featherweight title in July when she stopped Marloes Coenen in the fourth round. That fight was a rematch from their 2010 Strikeforce title fight, also won by TKO by Justino.
But now Justino will take on a new challenge for Lion Fight, a Las Vegas-based muay Thai promotion. Lion Fight 11 takes place at the Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas.
“As one of the best female fighters in the world, we are thrilled that Cris ‘Cyborg’ is going to fight full rules muay Thai and take on world champion Martina Jindrova,” Lion Fight CEO Scott Kent said in a statement. “Both of these fighters are fierce, aggressive strikers who like to end fights.”
Jindrova brings a muay Thai record of 17-5 with three knockouts. The native of the Czech Republic was a boxing and kickboxing champion in her home country.
Justino wouldn’t rule out staying active in professional muay Thai after the September bout. She said she has one more fight left on her three-fight Invicta deal, and she expects that fight – a first title defense with the promotion – to come before year’s end.
“I love fighting, and I try to do my best to have great fights,” she said. “I like striking – it’s more exciting to watch, and this is a good opportunity to fight muay Thai. It’s very exciting, and I hope to have other fights before the end of the year. I think I learn something every fight.”
Although Ultimate Fighting Championship champion Ronda Rousey has the most prestigious title in women’s MMA, many still regard “Cyborg” as the world’s most dangerous female fighter. But fighting a weight class above Rousey may continue to make a meeting between the two difficult.
So “Cyborg,” who along with MMA has competed as an amateur wrestler and in jiu-jitsu tournaments, will put her highly regarded striking to the test against Jindrova.
She has not lost an MMA fight since her pro debut in 2005. Since then, 10 of her 12 wins have been by knockout or TKO. She won her lone pro kickboxing match by knockout in 2006.
(Pictured: Cristiane Justino)