Continuing a recent trend in North American women's MMA, feared striker Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos missed weight by an astonishing seven pounds for her fight with Japanese star Hitomi "Girlfight Monster" Akano, but the fight will go on.
Unlike fellow weight-challenged star Gina "Conviction" Carano, Santos appeared to have made no effort to make the 145-pound limit and originally weighed in at 152 pounds.
Santos (6-1-0) was already set to hold a significant size and strength advantage over Akano (14-5-0), who was a former 128-Pound Champion in the now-defunct SmackGIRL promotion. Akano was coming up in weight to compete at the 145-pound level against Santos, and weighed in at a meagre 143.5 pounds. Their fight will be part of the Strikeforce: "Shamrock vs Diaz" card tomorrow night.
As the maximum allowance for weight discrepancy between fighters in a non-heavyweight bout is six pounds, which would have forced Santos to cut down to 149.5 for the fight to go on, the fight was initially cancelled. Santos allegedly weighed in at 150.5 pounds on her second try, but the damage had been done by that point and Akano's camp was rightfully declining the fight.
However, after hours of negotiations that literally should never have taken place, Akano relented and agreed to compete in the fight, despite the fact that she will be giving up over 20 pounds at fight time. Santos weighed in at 158 pounds at Midnight Pacific Time, and will likely be well above 160 pounds when the bell rings.
To say that this is a disgrace is an understatement, as the fight can now be regarded as nothing but a complete farce. While it is certainly understandable that Strikeforce promoter Scott Coker had to do everything in his power to protect his investment in making the fight happen, pitting two combatants against one another in circumstances such as this is something that should never take place in mixed martial arts.
While Akano will receive a significant portion of Santos's fight earnings, and will be rightfully regarded as a true warrior for taking the fight, it is all but impossible to believe that she will stand any chance against her massively oversized opponent. Akano has never been stopped in a fight, and possesses incredible submission skills, but Santos's size and strength advantage will almost certainly be far too much for the Japanese star to handle.
Akano, who will reportedly receive additional contracted bouts with Strikeforce (and better, after these proceedings), will be free to return to a more natural weight class of 135 pounds in the future, but her acceptance of this nonsensical fight will, if nothing else, at least provide her with some measure of exposure to a North American audience.
While playing favourites is generally to be avoided, here's hoping that Akano pulls off a monumental upset and shocks the overweight and unprofessional Santos. Regardless of the outcome, Santos, as well as the aforementioned Carano, needs to start acting like a professional athlete and must never let anything like this happen again.