Carano-Cyborg to Headline Aug. 15 Strikeforce

By Loretta Hunt Jun 7, 2009
Gina Carano and Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos will meet at Strikeforce’s Aug. 15 event at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. The promotion announced the much-awaited bout during their event telecast Saturday on Showtime.

The bout, which will presumably be held at 145 pounds, will mark the first time a female matchup headlines a major U.S. promotion.

The undefeated Carano will be 10 months removed from the cage when she returns on Aug. 15, as “The Face of Women’s MMA” has been in negotiations with Strikeforce since her contract was inherited by the San Jose-based promotion last February. One of the sport’s brightest stars, Carano was also widely regarded as one of its most underpaid for the fan interest and media exposure she brings to the table.

In her last appearance for the now-defunct EliteXC, Carano (7-0) earned a unanimous decision against Kelly Kobold. She was paid $25,000 for her efforts, though the bout was seen by nearly 5.2 million viewers and drew in an additional million set of eyes from the bout that preceded it.

The UFC was among those in line for Carano’s services if a new deal hadn’t been struck with Strikeforce. The 27-year-old intonated that her decision would effect the future of the entire women’s division, one that seems very promising in the female-friendly Strikeforce, who has steadily promoted women’s bouts since its first MMA event in early 2006.

“Strikeforce has a vision for women. They want to do something with women,” Carano told Sherdog.com in March.

Santos (7-1), a member of Brazil’s touted Chute Boxe Academy, battered the smaller Hitomi Akano for two rounds at Strikeforce “Shamrock vs. Diaz” on April 11 in San Jose, Calif. Akano was finally given a reprieve from the 31-year-old Brazilian striker’s onslaught at the top of the third round. Santo holds a single loss to Erica Paes –- in her first professional bout -- via September 2005.

The women will be joined by Strikeforce lightweight champion Josh Thomson and his interim counterpart Gilbert Melendez, who will unify the titles in the night’s co-main event. The lithe pair had been scheduled to square off on April 11 until Thomson withdrew with a broken foot. Thomson (16-2) took the title from Melendez (15-2) with a five-round unanimous decision in June 2008.
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