<
>

Cyborg's coach: I hope Cris draws Rousey back

As head coach of Cris "Cyborg" Justino, Jason Parillo realizes he has a biased opinion when it comes to what weight she should compete at.

But, boy, would he love to see the UFC promote her at 145 pounds.

Justino (17-1) is coming off her second win in the Octagon -- a TKO over Lina Lansberg at UFC Fight Night on Sept. 24. The bout took place at a 140-pound catchweight. Justino is a 145-pound champion in the all-female promotion Invicta FC, but the UFC does not promote that weight class. The highest the UFC currently promotes is 135 pounds.

So far, the UFC has asked Justino to cut to a 140-pound catchweight in order to book her fights. As everyone knows by now, Justino struggles to make that weight. Recently, she's started to release videos online of jarring behind-the-scenes footage of the cut.

Parillo, who has also coached Michael Bisping, Tito Ortiz and B.J. Penn among others, says watching Justino cut weight is the worst part of his job. During a recent interview with ESPN's Five Rounds Podcast, Parillo said he doesn't necessarily feel like Justino's life is in danger -- but the topic does actually cross his mind during those cuts.

"It's heart-breaking, especially when you know how strong and well prepared [a fighter is]," Parillo said. "And now, the day before, two days before [the fight], you're almost draining all that hard work out of this human being just to make weight.

"I think to myself, 'This is just not worth it.' I'd hate to lose because of this. I'd hate to lose because my fighter is willing to come close to death to get on that scale."

Parillo said he's not trying to ruffle any feathers with his comments, but the UFC's strategy with Justino has become confusing to him.

To put it simply, Parillo sees that the only female fights above 135 pounds the UFC has interest in are Justino fights. So, if that's the case, book them at a healthier weight for that athlete.

"OK, they don't want to open up a 145-pound division, I understand that," Parillo said. "But they also don't want to open up a 140-pound division. They do want to have these superfights.

"I'm not trying to tell any company what to do, but a superfight is a superfight whether it's 140 or 145. It's still a super fight. And I think there are bigger girls that are willing to fight at 145, that know they can't make 140 themselves. I think it actually opens doors to more superfights at 145. I think we'd have girls come out of the woodwork."

Of course, one of those superfights that has dangled in front of Justino's camp -- and fight fans -- for years is a bout between Justino and former UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey.

Rousey, 29, hasn't fought since she suffered her first loss in stunning fashion to Holly Holm late last year. Neither Rousey nor the UFC has made any announcement on her potential comeback, although discussions have taken place regarding a return this year.

Parillo says he's played out a fight between Justino and Rousey for years, while the two went back and forth in headlines but never in the cage.

It's been more difficult envisioning that matchup this year, as Parillo admits he doesn't know where Rousey's head is. If the superfight happens, Parillo wants Rousey back at her absolute best. In a way, he's hoping Justino's success in the UFC in 2016 might motivate Rousey to get back to that point.

"It's hard to tell if she is coming back," Parillo said. "I really hope Cris motivates her to come back. [Rousey] was an Olympian. Obviously, she's a passionate person who believes in what she does. With that type of personality, a lot of times something like the situation that's going on with Cris can draw her back. That's what I'm hoping for. But until I see her back in there, I just want to see how she emotionally and mentally handled her loss.

"I think that fight should happen at 145. I know at one time, [Rousey] was probably 11-0 and three or five of her fights had been at 145. I know she's competed at 145. She competed in the Olympics at [154]."