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Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino to be released from UFC contract

Former UFC women’s featherweight champion Cris “Cyborg” Justino is now a free agent.

UFC president Dana White gave an interview Friday responding to Justino’s recent criticism of him and said she will be released from her UFC contract.

Justino won a unanimous decision over Felicia Spencer at UFC 240 last week in Edmonton, Alberta, in the final fight of her contract. She repeatedly has said she wants a rematch with bantamweight and featherweight champion Amanda Nunes, the only woman to beat her in the past decade.

White, though, said that during negotiations Justino instead requests easier matchups. The discourse has turned vitriolic at times, with Justino rehashing accusations of sexism and bullying toward her by White and other UFC employees.

As part of Justino’s contract, the UFC has an exclusive negotiating period and matching rights to any deal, but White said the organization will relinquish those options.

“Message received, I get it,” he said. “I’m going to release her from her contract. I will not match any offers. She is free and clear to go to Bellator or any of these other organizations and fight these easy fights that she wants. Done. Done deal. I will literally today have my lawyer draft a letter to her team that she is free and clear to go wherever she wants. We’re out of the Cyborg business.”

Justino didn’t respond to an interview request from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, though she did take to social media late Friday. She made veiled references to the breakup with the UFC, but posted an extensive apology to White for previously posting an edited video of a conversation between the two last week after her win. Justino blamed her team for selectively editing the video to paint White in a negative light.

During Friday’s interview, White also said he has no plans to end “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show.

“I don’t ever want it to go away,” he said. “I think it’s too important to the sport, the athletes and the brand.”

No ‘Chaos’ for Lawler

Former welterweight champion Robbie Lawler has refused to allow top contender Colby “Chaos” Covington to create drama ahead of their UFC on ESPN 5 main event bout Saturday in Newark, New Jersey.

Covington has created a trolling “MAGA” character that has generated attention for himself and led to an invitation to the White House. But the even-keeled Lawler insists he hasn’t paid much attention to Covington’s antics, even when the subject of Lawler’s departure from American Top Team, where they used to train together, was raised.

“I left (ATT), and it is what it is,” Lawler said. “He wanted a storyline. People ask a lot of questions, especially with this fight going on. Whatever. I’m good to go. I just ignore it.”

Lawler wasn’t Covington’s only target. During his media appearances to promote the fight, he trashed the New York Knicks and hired females to stand next to him that he referred to as the “Queens of Chaos,” saying they were necessary to counteract the “Northeast hags” in New Jersey.

The bout headlines a main card that starts at noon Saturday on ESPN.

Bouncing back

Undefeated women’s strawweight Mackenzie Dern gave birth to a girl June 9, but she’s ready to fight again.

Dern will face Amanda Ribas on Oct. 12 at a location to be determined.

The card will be headlined by a strawweight contender bout between Michelle Waterson and former champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

More MMA: Follow at CoveringTheCage.com and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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