The bizarre odyssey that the UFC women’s featherweight division has been on since its founding in February took another strange twist on Tuesday when Megan Anderson pulled out of her title bout with Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino, scheduled for UFC 214 on July 29 in Anaheim, Calif., for personal reasons.
The UFC announced Invicta bantamweight champion Tonya Evinger as Anderson’s replacement. ESPN.com was the first to report the news.
Evinger said she’d been thinking of a move to flyweight to find more competition, but told UFC.com she relished the opportunity to face Justino.
I think I match up better than any of her other opponents. I think my style is really unpredictable. I’m tough and you’ve never seen me in a fight where I got my ass really beat up. I think I’m a perfect matchup; I drag people where they don’t want to go and I make a fight hard for them. I don’t fight other people’s fights. It’s a frame of mind. I’m just an old-school wrestler and I think it’s just a frame of mind. We’re tough and we come out there to fight.
Anderson did not specify what her personal issue is or when she might be able to return, but she vowed she would be back.
“I am no stranger to struggle and this is the biggest struggle I have faced yet,” Anderson wrote in a statement she posted on Twitter.
UFC president Dana White created the division in December and announced Holly Holm versus Germaine de Randamie for the newly minted title for UFC 208 in February in Brooklyn. White said at the time that he offered three separate bouts to Justino, but she declined them. Justino said she was still recovering from a difficult weight cut.
De Randamie won the belt via decision, but said on the night of the bout that she needed surgery and wouldn’t be able to defend against Justino. Later, she blasted Justino as a drug cheat and said she would not fight her.
The UFC stripped her of the belt, ending one of the strangest title reigns in its history, and made Justino versus Anderson for the interim belt. With Anderson out and qualified featherweights in short supply, the UFC turned to the veteran Evinger, who has won 10 in a row with a no contest.