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BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Who is the greatest female mixed martial artist of all time? Bellator president Scott Coker believes there is only one correct answer.

After a Bellator 225 pre-event news conference held Thursday, Coker spoke with MMA Junkie on the topic of current free agent Cris Cyborg. The former UFC women’s featherweight champion was released from the promotion earlier this month following a public spat with the UFC president Dana White.

According to Coker, Bellator has recently engaged in talks with Cyborg (21-2) and her manager, Audie Attar. Coker said Bellator would love to have Cyborg on the roster, but he knows her team is reviewing multiple options. For Coker, the biggest obstacle when acquiring free agents is confirming they are indeed out of their contracts. In this specific case, Coker said he was able to verify Cyborg’s departure.

“We’ve been talking to Audie (Attar) since we got the official letter from her that she was released (by the UFC),” Coker said. “Sometimes fighters – and not to get into particulars – they say, ‘Oh, I’m a free agent.’ And then it turns out they’re not really a free agent.

“So, we try to make sure we have all the i’s dotted. (Because if not,) then you get the lawsuits. At the end of the day, we want to make sure they really are free, and if they are we’ll have a conversation. We are in discussions with Audie, and I’m sure he’s in discussions with two to three people about trying to make a deal for Cyborg.”

If Cyborg was to sign with Bellator, it wouldn’t be the first time she’d fight under Coker. The two worked together during Cyborg’s pre-UFC reign as the Strikeforce champion. Having seen Cyborg compete firsthand, Coker is willing to call her the greatest to ever do it.

“Let’s face it,” Coker said. “I don’t care what anybody says. Me speaking about the female divisions that basically Strikeforce created in mixed martial arts when nobody else would do it, she is the GOAT of female MMA – period.”

Cyborg lost via TKO to Amanda Nunes last December to end a 20-fight, 13-year unbeaten run, but Coker doesn’t believe the defeat hurts Cyborg’s status when he looks through a historical lens. When he thinks about her career as a whole, especially her mid-20s, Coker sees no other answer is acceptable when assigning GOAT status to a female fighter.

“Because you beat Muhammad Ali doesn’t make you Muhammad Ali, is how I feel,” Coker said. “I saw her fight when she was 24, 25, 26. Those are years Cyborg was fighting for me, and she was just a beast. I wish we could rewind those tapes and check it out, because she’s a killer. She’s still a killer. But for me to say that she’s not the greatest of all time and someone else is? That’s ridiculous.”

Bellator 225 takes place Saturday at Webster Bank Arena. The main card airs on Paramount and streams on DAZN following prelims on MMA Junkie.

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