In the end, “Beauty” was no match for “the Beast”.
The history-making fight between Gina Carano and Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos more than lived up to its billing, with both fighters delivering a non-stop slugfest which ended with Santos scoring a TKO victory over Carano at the very end of the first round. Santos becomes the inaugural Strikeforce Women’s Featherweight Champion and puts an emphatic end to Carano’s undefeated record.
Cyborg starts the fight throwing bombs. Carano clinches and tries to fall into mount, but Cyborg reverses and tries to ground-and-pound. Carano stands back up, but Cyborg rolls into a heel hook. Carano squirms and eventually gets out of it. The fighters both stand and start trading punches and kicks, with a Cyborg clinch getting turned into a Carano takedown. Carano gets mount, but curiously gives it up, preferring to make Cyborg stand back up. Once up, Cyborg throws huge punches, backing up Carano. Cyborg gets a trip takedown and tries for a kimura but fails. With time running out, Cyborg stands up in Carano’s guard and smashes Carano with fists. The assault continues until Carano can take no more, and the referee stops the fight at 4:59 in round one, a split second before the horn went off.
It was not the victory that the Strikeforce marketing machine was probably hoping for, but Cyborg’s pure aggression let her dictate the pace and run Carano over. Carano could not match Cyborgs power and seemed rattled by Cyborg’s early push forward. Nobody knows who the next legitimate challenger for the new Woman’s title will be, as no other female fighter besides Carano and Santos has gotten much TV airtime, but the first woman’s MMA main event on national TV was a success, as Santos and Carano delivered a fight as exciting as any other MMA main event we’ve seen this year. Whether or not a Woman’s MMA division can sustain itself in the long term, however, is an entirely different question, as tonight’s fight wasn’t exactly a demonstration of high-level technique.