Cris Cyborg To Face Hiroko Yamanaka In Strikeforce ReturnStrikeforce Women’s Featherweight Champion Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos has an opponent at last. The Brazilian star will face once-beaten Japanese standout Hiroko Yamanaka in a title bout announced by the promotion today. The fight is expected to take place on December 17th in San Diego.

Santos has not fought since a June 2010 destruction of an overmatched Jan “Cuddles” Finney, as she has sat on the sidelines awaiting a new contract. Having recently signed a new deal, Santos now returns to the cage against Yamanaka, who will hold a significant height and reach advantage.

Santos (10-1-0) captured the Strikeforce 145-pound title by stopping Gina “Conviction” Carano in an August 2009 headliner that drew very strong ratings for the California-based promotion. She went on to defend the belt against Dutch star Marloes “Rumina” Coenen five months later before returning to the cage in June. In a one-sided bout that many felt should have been stopped earlier, Santos finished Finney with a knee to the body in round two. Her contract subsequently expired, however, and the champion found herself without a fight for the last 15 months.

Yamanaka (12-1-0) will rightfully enter the bout with Santos as an underdog, but she is one of Santos’s largest opponents to date. At 5’11”, the former dominatrix Yamanaka previously competed at or above 160 pounds before recently making the cut down to the featherweight division. Having already avenged the lone defeat of her career with a decision win over Hitomi “Girlfight Monster” Akano in March 2010, Yamanaka brings an eight-fight winning streak into her Strikeforce debut. She has finished three straight opponents and has shown marked improvement in recent bouts.

The pair are expected to face off for Santos’s Strikeforce 145-pound title on December 17th. According to an report from earlier today, the event is targeted for the San Diego Sports Arena in San Diego, California.



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  1. great to see Cyborg back in action against someone her size!

  2. Cyborg by destruction.

  3. Yamanaka is pretty dang big for a female fighter. she might be able to pull off the upset if she goes out and does what she can do while not being intimidated by Cyborg.

  4. Cyborg will win this one in the first round. I don’t think Hiroko ever fought under full MMA rules, and she hasn’t been to the Octagon. Cyborg is just too fast and strong.

  5. Many of Hiroko’s recent fights have been under full rules because she wanted it that way so she could prepare to one day face Cyborg. The only difference is that Jewels employs standing eight counts – even in bouts that use otherwise full rules – and there’s obviously none of that in Strikeforce.

    Hiroko has trained with a cage (albeit a partial one, I believe) and with elbows, so while she’s certainly going to be an underdog here, she should be familiar with the rules already.

  6. Thanks for the heads-up, Rob!