UFC CEO interested in signing 'Cyborg'

Representatives for Cris "Cyborg" Justino have been in negotiations with UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta. Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com

Cris "Cyborg" Justino is currently involved in contract negotiations with Zuffa, parent company of the UFC, members of both sides have confirmed to ESPN.com.

Justino (12-1) is the current featherweight champion of all-female promotion Invicta FC, which has strong business ties to Zuffa and airs on UFC's Fight Pass. Justino has one fight remaining on her Invicta FC contract.

UFC CEO Lorenzo Feritta told ESPN.com he has been in negotiations with Justino's representatives the past two weeks. The potential deal, which has not been signed, would keep Justino, 29, under the Invicta FC banner -- while also keeping alive a potential megafight against UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey in the Octagon.

"We certainly have an interest in Cyborg fighting for us," Fertitta said. "We feel that down the road, there is a possibility of a big fight between her and Ronda, but there are still a lot of things that need to happen.

"She needs to prove she can get down to 135 pounds before we would take the risk of making that fight happen. Obviously, if she came over and didn't make the weight, it would be a disaster."

George Prajin, Justino's manager, confirmed ongoing negotiations with Zuffa, but stressed his current focus is to get Justino back in the cage as soon as possible. The Brazilian champion has not competed in professional mixed martial arts since she won the inaugural Invicta FC title in a TKO win against Marloes Coenen in July 2013.

"One thing I can say is that Lorenzo and Zuffa have been very professional during these negotiations," Prajin said. "And they have been respectful to Chris, which is probably what's actually keeping us at the table."

A potential fight between Rousey (10-0) and Justino, widely considered the top two female fighters in the world, has tantalized the sport for years.

The two appeared to be on a collision course earlier in their respective careers, when Rousey competed at 145 pounds under the Strikeforce banner. Justino held the Strikeforce title from 2009 to 2011.

Circumstances never came together, however. In late 2011, Justino received a one-year suspension after testing positive for steroids immediately after a knockout win against Hiroko Yamanaka. In mid-2012, Rousey dropped to the 135-pound bantamweight division, where she won the Strikeforce title in a submission win over Miesha Tate.

The biggest issue, among several at this point, is weight. Rousey has settled into the 135-pound division with four UFC title defenses. Justino has started previous attempts to cut to 135 pounds, but struggled. A recent ankle injury prompted Justino to abandon the cut at this time. Her next fight will take place at 145 pounds.

Fertitta said the UFC has not softened its stance on booking a Rousey-Justino fight at a catchweight. Justino would have to prove she could make 135 pounds before entering the Octagon. Currently, the UFC does not promote a female featherweight division.

"I feel fairly positive if Cyborg can get to 135 pounds, we will be able to make that fight," Fertitta said. "[The Rousey fight] has to happen at 135 pounds."

Prajin said he did not wish to discuss Justino's potential cut to 135 pounds at this time. He did acknowledge that any pending deal with Zuffa would keep a Rousey fight alive.

"A deal would give Cris the freedom to shine at 145 pounds, while also keeping the opportunity open to fight in the UFC," Prajin said. "We're not fortune-tellers. We just have to let things happen. At this time, all we're concerned with is her fighting as soon as possible. We'll see what happens from there. Cris is a 145-pound champion. Ronda is a 135-pound champion. A lot of things have to happen in order to see that fight."