UNCASVILLE, Conn. – The featherweight division has arguably the least amount of depth of any of Bellator’s women’s weight classes, but its champion hopes that soon will change.

Cris Cyborg (23-2 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) will put her women’s featherweight title on the line against Leslie Smith (12-8-1 MMA, 2-2 BMMA) in the Bellator 259 main event on May 21. It’s a rematch from a fight that took place in the UFC in 2016, but the champ thinks it’s a brand new fight for multiple reasons.

“I know we fought before six years ago, but we’re better fighters now,” Cyborg told MMA Junkie after the matchup was announced at Bellator 255 on Friday at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. “For sure, it’s going to be a great fight for everyone. She’s the challenger. She’s getting better. She’s getting wins, and when you’re getting wins you’re supposed to fight for the title. She’s been a contender to fight for the title, and really I just get ready – and who (Bellator president) Scott Coker thinks I should fight, I’m ready.”

Cyborg and Smith first fought at UFC 198 in May 2016 in a 140-pound catchweight bout. That fight, in Cyborg’s home country of Brazil, was her UFC debut after signing as Invicta’s featherweight champion. She took Smith out with a TKO just 81 seconds into the fight.

This time around with Smith, Cyborg said she won’t have to worry about those extra five pounds.

“It’s different because it was a different chapter in my life,” Cyborg said. “I was doing catchweights – I was doing 140 (pounds). I wasn’t worried about the fight – I was worried about making weight. Before, we were fighting in front of 40,000 people (in Brazil). Now it’s going to be different (with no fans). But my first fight, I was focused on making weight. Now (my focus) is going to be 100 percent on the fight.”

After she beat Smith in the UFC, Cyborg ultimately won the women’s featherweight title. But she lost it to current two-division champion Amanda Nunes in late 2018 – her first loss since her May 2005 pro debut. Cyborg had one more win in the UFC, then signed with Bellator.

In her promotional debut in January 2020, she took out longtime champion Julia Budd with a fourth-round TKO to win the belt. This past October, she had her first title defense and submitted Arlene Blencowe in the second round.

The fight with Smith, who has won two of her first three with Bellator since coming over from the UFC, will be just the second rematch of Cyborg’s career. Smith got the title shot after rebounding from a loss to Blencowe with a decision over Amanda Bell this past September.

A title shot without a winning streak sometimes is par for the course in the women’s featherweight division, but Cyborg said she’s hopeful the weight class grows for Bellator. Coker said earlier this week former UFC title challenger Megan Anderson might find a new home with the promotion after leaving the UFC.

“I don’t have the names, but I want all the girls to be with Scott and fight for Bellator,” Cyborg said. “We have the real (featherweight) division, and I want to leave my legacy (that) we had the division at 145 pounds. When I stop fighting, it’s going to continue growing.”