Strikeforce Women’s Middleweight (145-Pound) Champion Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos will likely return to Strikeforce action in June against an opponent to be determined. The promotion’s CEO, Scott Coker, made the announcement this evening during an interview with MMAWeekly Radio.
Santos successfully defended her title in a January bout with Dutch standout Marloes “Rumina” Coenen at Strikeforce: Miami. The Brazilian star stopped Coenen in the third round, but now faces a dilemma as Strikeforce struggles to find a suitable challenger for her 145-pound championship.
Santos (9-1-0) has reigned undefeated since losing her professional debut in 2005 and has quickly garnered a reputation as one of the most feared female fighters to ever compete in MMA. With seven victories coming by a form of knockout, Santos’s aggressive style has overwhelmed many of her past opponents including former women’s MMA postergirl Gina “Conviction” Carano, whom Santos defeated for the title last August. The biggest problem that Santos faces now is a lack of high-level opposition in the form of potential title challengers.
Coker had previously stated that Santos would next defend her belt against Erin Toughill, but Toughill’s status with Strikeforce is currently unknown after she announced plans to leave the promotion on March 18th. Citing a variety of grievances, Toughill stated that she would no longer be fighting for Strikeforce and said that retirement was possible. With Carano currently making movies and Coenen contemplating a drop to 135 pounds, the lone top contender remaining in the 145-pound division is former Smackgirl Open-Weight Champion Hiroko Yamanaka (8-1-1) of Japan.
No opponent has been lined up for Santos yet, but divisional prospects Cindy “Battlecat” Dandois (3-0-0), Shana “Rock Solid” Olsen (3-0-0) and Amanda “Lioness of the Ring” Nunes (5-1-0) could also serve as potential challengers for Santos’s crown. Each of the three already holds at least one key victory in their short careers. Dandois upset Coenen in early 2009, Olsen stopped Kaitlin Young last December and Nunes is coming off of wins over Vanessa Porto and Ediane “India” Gomes.
The Strikeforce event in June has not yet been officially announced, but the promotion is reportedly planning a card for June 26th at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California. A rumoured bout between top-ranked heavyweight “The Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianenko and Fabricio “Vai Cavalo” Werdum is also possible for the June event, as is a return of former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Cung Le.
(Photo Credit: Sherdog.com)