Monday, January 16, 2012

Wrong Turn: MMA Edition

A few days ago, I began writing an article making a case that Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos should not only be considered the greatest female MMA fighter of all-time, but simply one of the greatest fighters of all-time, male or female. That article came to a screeching halt a few days ago, as the female Cyborg tested positive for steroids. Santos was a polarizing case in the MMA community. Fans wouldn’t watch to see if she could “pass the next test” in the form of her next opponent; it was more like they were watching to see how quickly and violently she could dispatch the brave soul standing in front of her. Was it really possible a fighter could be that far ahead of everyone else in the field? How? The competition couldn’t be that bad…could it? The recent news certainly hasn’t shined a positive light on why that may be. With all the flack Alistair Overeem gets for looking “unnatural,” he’s been able to pass all of his drug tests.

This news is not bad for Cyborg herself, but Women’s MMA in general. After Dana White heard the news, he proclaimed that Santos would be stripped of her title and spoke of the possibility of the women’s 145lb division being scrapped altogether. And what Dana says usually happens. Whether Dana will admit it or not, Cyborg had star power. She put on a brutal display of power and technique every single time, and she dismantled Gina Carano, the most recognizable face in women’s MMA, in one of the most watched fights in Strikeforce’s history with Showtime. The UFC boss stated that they had only intended on keeping the 145lb division because of her. By losing Cyborg, Strikeforce loses another draw. It is especially bad timing considering the current climate of the organization. Where the WEC gained a niche following for promoting the lighter weight classes, Strikeforce had a niche following for promoting women’s fights. By losing Cyborg, and potentially the entire division, Strikeforce may lose fans who were just watching to see high quality women’s action.

The only light that may come out of this is that Strikeforce can maybe focus more on its female 135lb division, which is more talent-laden than 145 (let’s face it, that division was mainly for Gina and Cyborg). If Zuffa really is serious about trying to keep Strikeforce around for a while longer, maybe they can now add lower female weight classes were there is more competition to be found. Still, this is all speculation, as nothing is set in stone yet. One thing that is set in stone is the fact the Cris Santos’s legacy will forever have an asterisk next to it from now on. What was supposed to be her reintroduction to the world in December may have turned out to be her farewell to the big show. An unfortunate end to such a promising career.

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