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MMA:

Cyborg’ does all the talking in and out of cage

Carano avoids media after loss, trainer promises she’ll be back

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Jim Gensheimer / Mercury News

Cris “Cyborg” Santos, of Brazil, celebrates her win over Gina Carano during Strikeforce MMA Female Middleweight Championship at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. on Saturday, August 15, 2009. Santos won in the first round with a TKO.

Strikeforce: Carano-Cyborg

Cris Launch slideshow »

SAN JOSE, Calif. — If she was upset about the split-second call that stopped her historical title fight Saturday night, Gina Carano didn’t say it.

The Las Vegas-based fighter actually didn’t say anything, leaving HP Pavilion without talking to media members after suffering a TKO loss to Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos in the first-ever women’s mixed martial arts championship bout.

Officials said Carano was not going to the hospital and left the Strikeforce event under her own power.

Carano’s trainer at Xtreme Couture Shawn Tompkins served as his fighter’s mouthpiece and quickly dispelled any notion that the fight should not have been stopped by referee Josh Rosenthal at the 4:59 mark of the first round.

“She was done. We’re not gonna contest that. The ref pulled her off, she wasn’t answering, she wasn’t going anymore,” Tompkins said.

“I don’t want to take anything from Cyborg. She’s a great fighter, a dominant force in that division.”

Tompkins who helped train Carano along with UFC legend Randy Couture said Carano got caught up in the hoopla of the historical bout that aired on Showtime and was never really herself in the cage.

“She relayed to us that she felt so much pressure with the fight and everything surrounding it that it got to her. We know Gina very well. We train with her every day; we’ve known her for years; she’s a good friend, like a sister to us all, and that wasn’t Gina Carano in the cage tonight,” Tompkins said.

“I think everybody at home knows that, too.”

Cyborg, however, conceded one title to the 27-year-old Carano (7-1), who suffered the first setback of her career.

“She can keep the title of being 'the face of women’s MMA.' I’ve got my title right here,” said a celebratory Santos (8-1), who pointed down at her new shimmering championship belt in the postfight press conference.

A disappointed and emotional Carano gave the belt to Santos, who only moments earlier ended the action-filled five minutes with a flurry of uncontested blows in the final 15 seconds that forced the stoppage.

Santos thanked Carano for helping to create arguably the biggest moment in the history of female combat sports, and again in the post fight conference.

“Gina is very tough, and she was one of the toughest opponents I've ever fought," Santos said through a translator.

"But I was ready for everything, so it was OK.”

So, too, was the crowd of 13,524, although the ending of the fight was a touchy subject as plenty of boos and a few beers rained down immediately.

But the large mass of MMA fans got their money’s worth in the previous four minutes and 59 seconds.

Santos pushed the pace from the opening bell, landing a quick combination as Carano backpedaled. “Conviction” recovered, landing a couple blows of her own, but again got into trouble as Santos applied a leg lock after taking her to the ground.

Carano wiggled out of the submission attempt and actually reversed the action, much to the crowd’s delight as chants of “Gina, Gina” rang out. But by the time Carano ran into trouble the third time in the first round, the Brazilian slugger proved to be overpowering.

“I think if Gina could have got past the first two rounds, then I think the tide would have changed,” Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker said.

"Gina hit her with some good jabs and she had some good escapes. I was surprised Gina was trying to grapple with her a little bit. I thought we would see more of a striking match from her, but Gina's a great fighter."

A fighter who Tompkins said most certainly would bounce back.

“Gina will go home and, like any other fighter, will rebuild herself mentally first,” Tompkins said. “She loves what she does.

“She doesn’t do this for the money. She comes from a family with money. She does this because she loves the sport and she always wants to get in the cage and fight.”

As for Santos, she said she's up for any challenge that comes her way. And why not, she just walked away victorious in the biggest fight that any female has ever had.

"I feel like I made history," she said with a smile.

Andy Samuelson can be reached at [email protected] or 702-948-7837.

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