In The Spotlight:
Gina “Conviction” Carano (7-0-0): “The Face of Women’s MMA” is just that, as Carano is easily the most recognised female fighter in the world. Not just a pretty face, Carano has remained undefeated by continuing to evolve her game. As arguably the biggest star of the former EliteXC, Carano picked up four wins in the promotion, with two coming by stoppage. Her most recent fights, against Kaitlin Young and Kelly Kobold, respectively, showed that Carano has worked diligently on improving her skills and is out to prove critics wrong.
Young was expected to be Carano’s toughest test, but Carano dominated the striking exchanges and prevented Young from landing any of her devastating knockout shots. The same was true against Kobold, as Carano once again prevented her opponent from executing her game plan and overwhelmed Kobold with strikes to earn a dominant Unanimous Decision. Carano is currently set to compete in the biggest fight of her career on August 15th when she battles feared striker Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos for the newly-created Strikeforce Women’s Featherweight Championship.
The women’s title bout, for the first time ever, will headline the card. Carano’s lone problems to date have come before her fights, in making contracted weight limits, but fans are hopeful that those problems are now firmly in the past. A win over Santos would vault Carano into a spot among the elite.
Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos (7-1-0): Much like Carano, Santos has leapt into the public eye after dominant performances in EliteXC and her recent transition to Strikeforce. Santos is arguably the most feared striker in all of women’s MMA, and her ruthless aggression has been too much for all but one of her opponents to date. Following her destruction of “The Queen of Spades” Shayna Baszler and clear-cut victory over Yoko Takahashi, Santos was expected to challenge Carano in an upcoming event. However, EliteXC folded and the fight with Carano was seemingly off.
Santos debuted in Strikeforce on April 11th against former SmackGIRL 128-Pound Champion Hitomi “Girlfight Monster” Akano, who was coming up significantly in weight to meet Santos at 145 pounds. However, Santos horribly missed weight and the fight was briefly cancelled as a result. In a questionable move, the fight was eventually allowed to take place and Santos outweighed her opponent by over 20 pounds at fight time. The result was academic, as the vastly larger Santos manhandled a game but overmatched Akano en route to a third-round TKO victory.
Santos now has a lot to prove, as her failure to make weight earned her even more detractors than Carano, and she will look to redeem herself when she and Carano finally meet on August 15th. Should Santos get past Carano, it remains to be seen whether anyone can ever dethrone her at 145 pounds.