Saturday, Aug. 15, 2009 | 2 a.m.
What: First-ever female MMA title fight at 145 pounds between Gina Carano (7-0) vs. Christiane “Cyborg” Santos (7-1)
Light heavyweight title fight: Renato Sobral (35-8) vs. Gegard Mousasi (25-2-1)
Lightweight interim title fight: Gilbert Melendez (15-2) vs. Mitsuhiro Ishida (18-5-1)
Where: HP Pavilion, San Jose, Calif.
TV: Showtime (main card starts at 7:30 p.m.)
MMA record: 7-0
From: Las Vegas
Last fight: Unanimous decision victory over Kelly Kobold at EliteXC: Heat on Oct. 4
Notable: “Conviction,” who competed for the American Gladiators under the stage name “Crush,” will have UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture in her corner.
MMA record: 7-1
From: Curitiba, Brazil
Last fight: Third-round TKO victory (punches) over Hitomi Akano at Strikeforce: Shamrock vs. Diaz on April 11
Notable: “Cyborg” was discovered on the handball courts of Curitiba, Brazil, by famed Chute Boxe Academy trainer Rudimar Fedrigo.
Las Vegan Gina Carano and Brazilian Christiane “Cyborg” Santos will make history tonight in San Jose, Calif., when they fight for the first-ever female mixed martial arts championship.
The fight between the top two female fighters had been rumored for several months. When EliteXC folded, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker swept in to make the dream match a reality.
“When I first put this fight together, I realized it was big, and as a fan I was looking forward to seeing it even when I thought those two were going to fight each other in EliteXC, before I was involved,” Coker told AOL Fanhouse, referring to the 145-pound, five-round title bout.
“If you know Gina, she’s not just the girl next door with the pretty face. She can really fight. And when you look at Cyborg, she’s just going to bring it. They’re going to go into the cage and throw it down. This is the biggest fight in the history of women’s fighting, not just MMA.”
The face of women’s MMA
Carano, daughter of former UNLV and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Glenn Carano, has become the “face” of women’s mixed martial arts because of her good looks and outgoing personality. Appearing in a steamy photo shoot for Maxim and starring on “American Gladiators” have given Carano star power outside the cage, but the 27-year-old said she could not care less about her celebrity appeal going into the toughest test of her undefeated career.
“I’ve learned to take the compliments when people are nice enough to say things,” Carano told the San Jose Mercury News at a training session this week. “Maybe the way I look does get people watching. But hopefully when they see me in the cage, they’ll say: ‘Oh, wait, she can fight.’ I’ve dealt with people not taking me seriously all my life.”
‘Cyborg’ the slugger
The Brazilian is regarded as the brawn of this fight, and her ripped physique as been on display during the pair’s media tour in New York and elsewhere.
Santos — a disciple of the legendary Chute Boxe Academy in Brazil, a gym that has helped train the likes of UFC stars Anderson Silva, Wanderlei Silva, and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua — enters the contest with seven consecutive victories after losing her first professional bout. Her style often is compared to Silva’s for her straightforward approach of trying to end fights via strikes.
Going the distance
If this one goes to a decision, both fighters probably will be exhausted. Unlike any bout either fighter has ever taken part in, the fight is scheduled for five rounds of five minutes each. Normal U.S. women’s fights are three rounds at three minutes per frame.
Hieron just wants to fight
Xtreme Couture’s Jay Hieron wasn’t too happy being a casualty of Afflicition’s meltdown. Things seemed to brighten up when he signed on with Strikeforce to fight Nick Diaz for the welterweight title. Then the popular Diaz (much like Josh Barnett did with Affliction) had troubles passing a California State Athletic Commission mandatory drug test and is now off the card.
“I can’t control it,” said Hieron (17-4 MMA record), who will now fight Jesse Taylor, an “Ultimate Fighter” castoff. “You know, everything will turn out the way it’s supposed to, and I can’t really stress about the situation. The good thing about it is that I’ve been through all this stuff before, and it helps me get through this.”
Stealing the spotlight
UFC President Dana White and Coker always have had a cool relationship, but their rival promotions now really appear to be bumping heads. After Strikeforce signed highly touted Fedor Emelianenko, White took a public shot at Coker’s business, dubbing the promotion “Strikefarce.”
Tonight White and the UFC are going to try and steal some of the spotlight from the Strikeforce main stage by rebroadcasting several UFC 100 bouts, including the main event between Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir, free on Spike TV at the same time Carano and Cyborg air on Showtime.