Former Strikeforce champion Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos has signed on with Invicta Fighting Championships and will face off against Brazilian compatriot Ediane “India” Gomes at Invicta FC 5 on April 5th in Kansas City, Missouri. The matchup was officially announced by the promotion this evening.
Santos was officially released from her Zuffa contract earlier this week and will now look for a fresh start under the Invicta FC banner. Gomes’s original opponent on the Invicta FC 5 card, Julia “The Jewel” Budd, will now face off against Australian grappler Fiona Muxlow. The card features 15 fights.
Santos (10-1-0, 1 ND) made MMA history on August 15, 2009 when she became the first Strikeforce Women’s Featherweight Champion by defeating the previously unbeaten Gina “Conviction” Carano. She successfully defended her new title against Dutch veteran Marloes “Rumina” Coenen and Jan “Cuddles” Finney in subsequent fights. On December 17, 2011, Santos was matched up against top-ranked Japanese contender Hiroko “Cat’s Eye” Yamanaka. She finished Yamanaka with punches in just 16 seconds, but the bout was ruled a No Decision when Santos tested positive for a stanozolol metabolite.
The California State Athletic Commission handed Santos a one-year suspension for the positive steroid test and she was forced to sit on the sidelines throughout 2012 as Strikeforce wilted and Invicta FC was born. In January, Strikeforce staged its final event and Santos stated that she would be unable to make the 135-pound limit to compete in the newly-formed UFC women’s bantamweight division. A war of words between Santos and UFC champion “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey ensued, but with her options limited inside the UFC, Santos opted to move on to a new home in Invicta FC.
Gomes (10-2-0) has won five of her past six fights, with the lone defeat during that time coming against Rousey in March 2011. She has earned impressive victories in each of her two Invicta FC bouts to date. This past month, Gomes earned a lopsided Unanimous Decision win over Yamanaka to move one step closer to a title shot. She will have a chance to compete for the inaugural Invicta FC Featherweight Championship if she gets past Santos in April.
Budd (4-2-0) has also impressed in both of her fights under the Invicta FC banner, earning dominant first-round TKO victories over Elina Nilsson and Danielle “The Honey Badger” West. The veteran striker had expected to face Gomes in a number one contender’s bout, but will now welcome Muxlow (6-2-0) to the Invicta FC cage. Muxlow has submitted three opponents to date and is one of the more skilled grapplers in the 145-pound women’s division. She now looks to get back on track after falling to Coenen at DREAM.18 on New Year’s Eve.
Invicta Fighting Championships 5 takes place on April 5th at the Ameristar Casino Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri. The event is headlined by a pair of championship fights.
Invicta Fighting Championships 5 Fight Card (subject to change):
– Jessica Penne vs Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Waterson [Invicta FC Atomweight Championship]
– Vanessa Porto vs Barb “Little Warrior” Honchak [Invicta FC Flyweight Championship]
– Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos vs Ediane “India” Gomes
– Sarah Kaufman vs Leslie “The Peacemaker” Smith
– Zoila “The Warrior Princess” Gurgel vs Jennifer Maia
– Kaitlin Young vs Amanda “Lioness of the Ring” Nunes
– Julia “The Jewel” Budd vs Fiona Muxlow
– Nicdali “The Night Queen” Rivera-Calanoc vs “Sassy” Cassie Rodish
– Bec “Rowdy” Hyatt vs Jasminka Cive
– Katja “Killer Bunny” Kankaanpää vs Juliana “Ju Thai” Carneiro Lima
– Jessamyn “The Gun” Duke vs Miriam Nakamoto
– Alex Chambers vs Jodie Esquibel
– “Thug” Rose Namajunas vs Kathina “Kill Switch” Catron
– Veronica “The Heartbreaker” Rothenhausler vs “Miss” Mollie Estes
– River “Ruckus” Jones vs Lauren Barefoot
(Photo Credit: InvictaFC.com)