The sight of women wearing sports bras and leather usually means you’ve taken a very, very wrong turn in Manhattan. For Strikeforce, it’s a signal that one of their most valuable assets is about to be put on display.
7-0 Gina Carano and 7-1 Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos have nearly identical experience, aggression, and status in the still-burgeoning sport of female mixed martial arts. What they don’t have is a history of spending 25 minutes in a cage. There’s enough to be said about Santos’ pressuring style vs. Carano’s grit, but the incredible cardiovascular demands of a title fight can exhaust even those used to it. And you usually run out of gas before you run out of skill.
Santos has gone nine minutes on one occasion; Carano, twice. Saturday brings 16 extra minutes for their lungs to face. (Carano has competed under a 5-minute duration only once, in 2006.) Both are pocket strikers who stuff takedowns, can muster pop in their punches, and don’t bend easy against adversity. Minus the arm veins, they’re fairly reflective. Whoever wins this fight is likely to be the one who doesn’t need an oxygen mask at its conclusion.
What It Means: Likely as not, CBS will be watching with that big, spooky eye to see if MMA can resume a presence on its schedule. And yeah, network television is a pretty big deal. Look what it did for Kimbo Slice. And Tony Danza.
Third-Party Investor: Erin Toughill, a dormant 145 lb. contender and one of the few women neither Santos or Carano has smacked yet.
Who Wins: Santos has impressed handicappers with a relentless pace, but Carano just keeps coming. Expect Santos to wear herself out and Carano to dominate the scoring late. Someone’s quitting. Probably won’t be Gina.