Cyborg Develops 'Special Game' for Carano

By Marcelo Alonso Jul 4, 2009
Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos, though she has become feared for her brutish stand-up skills, believes she has a marked advantage over Gina Carano on the ground. Time may soon tell.

The two will meet for the 145-pound women’s championship in the main event at Strikeforce “Carano vs. Cyborg” on Aug. 15 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. It has been hailed as the most significant fight in the history of female mixed martial arts.

The 23-year-old Chute Boxe Academy standout plans to exploit Carano’s weaknesses.

“She comes from muay Thai and knows jiu-jitsu but is better standing up than on the ground,” Santos said. “I look for the muay Thai game in all my fights, but I’m also prepared to fight on the ground. I’ll keep the fight standing up and look for the knockout, but I’m preparing a special game for this fight, because whoever commits the fewest mistakes will win.”

Eager to live up to the pre-fight hype, Santos (7-1) has worked hard not to disappoint her fans.

“I hope after this fight between me and Gina other promoters have the courage to invest in female weight classes,” she said.

Santos last competed in April, when she stopped Hitomi Akano on third-round strikes at Strikeforce “Shamrock vs. Diaz.” Controversy surrounded the appearance, as the Brazilian missed weight by six pounds and put the bout in jeopardy. Other fighters openly questioned her commitment.

“I can’t have problems this time,” she said. “I promised it would never happen again, and I’ll keep my word. I already started the diet, and I don’t believe I’ll have problems. If it’s difficult for me, I believe it will be difficult for Gina, too, but I’m sure we will both be ready on the day of the fight and put on a great show for the fans.”

Though her mentor, Rafael Cordeiro, left the Chute Boxe Academy in 2009 after two decades as its head instructor, Santos has not skipped a beat in terms of preparation.

“If he decided to leave like all the others, I cannot train with him anymore,” she said. “It was a great loss, but life goes on. When he left, I stopped training with him. Now I’m training boxing and muay Thai with a Thailand teacher, jiu-jitsu with Cleber Luciano and wrestling and conditioning. Luiz Azeredo is also coming to the U.S. to help me. I’m in great shape.”

Marcelo Alonso/

The Cyborgs: Cristiane and
Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos.
Santos found herself in a supporting role recently, as her husband, Evangelista, lost by split decision to Joey Villasenor at ShoMMA “Strikeforce Challenger Series 2” on June 19. It was his first appearance since he suffered a gruesome elbow injury in a bout with Siyar Bahadurzada in September.

“Just like all athletes who come back from serious injuries, the first fight is never like the others,” she said. “It’s hard. [Mauricio] ‘Shogun’ [Rua] is a good example of that. After he returned against [Mark] Coleman, he had a nice fight against [Chuck] Liddell.”

Santos thought her husband performed well under the circumstances.

“He went nine months without having one single tough training session, and because of that, he was out of rhythm,” she said. “Even with all the problems, he had a great fight. Actually, the judges could have given the win to either one of them. The first round was pretty even. In the second, Cyborg was better, and in the third, Villasenor opened a cut on Cyborg’s face that impressed the judges. I’m sure Cyborg will soon be in top shape.”

Guilherme Cruz contributed to this report.
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