‘Cyborg’ Signs with Strikeforce; Carano in Talks

By Loretta Hunt Feb 9, 2009
Strikeforce stands to inherit the most anticipated female fight of all time.

Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos agreed to a world-exclusive, four-fight deal over the weekend with the promotion, which landed a multi-year agreement last week to broadcast up to 16 events a year on Showtime, along with an additional four shows on CBS.

Santos’ contract was one of 42 fighter agreements the San Jose-based promotion picked up in a limited assets deal with Pro Elite last week, although the contract was altered “to some extent,” to ensure the Chute Boxe fighter became an exclusive commodity for Strikeforce.

As part of the new agreement, Santos will not face Golden Glory’s Marloes Coenen at XMMA 7 “Inferno” on Feb. 27 at the Bell Centre in Montreal.

“Santos will fight on one of our next two cards,” said Mike Afromowitz, Strikeforce’s Director of Communications.

Strikeforce’s next event will be held April 11 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., and will also be broadcast on Showtime. Another show could follow as early as May.

Santos (6-1) fought two times for Pro Elite in 2008 under its EliteXC banner. Both were impressive displays of the Brazilian’s aggressive striking style and fueled talk that “Cyborg” might walk among the world’s best.

Gina Carano, who carries an unblemished 7-0 record and anchored two EliteXC “Saturday Night Fights” shows on CBS in 2008 that were watched by millions, has been named a worthy foil for Santos’ skills. Carano’s contract was also acquired by Strikeforce, although -- like Santos’ -- it appears to be undergoing a bit of tweaking too.

“I talked to -- before we did the deal -- the attorneys, and the attorneys feel we have a strong position to have the contracts transferable,” Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker told the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show on Friday. “To me, it’s very simple; there could be a legal remedy or there could be a business remedy. I’m all about creating a business remedy.”

Carano could be considered the crowned jewel of the entire EliteXC collection. The “American Gladiators” star appeared in a Pepsi ad alongside Bruce Lee during the Super Bowl and has even drawn interest from UFC President Dana White in recent months, who considered putting her on a WEC card.

“We’ve invited Gina to fight on the first card, but I can’t confirm yet if she’ll be fighting,” said Afromowitz.

Negotiations between Carano’s management and Strikeforce continue this week, presumably to bolster the fighter’s pay purse for future bouts. Carano earned only $25,000 for her victory over Kelly Kobold last October, but has garnered attention the world over as “the face of women’s MMA.”

Afromowitz confirmed that Santos, 23, and Carano, 26, would not meet each other on April 11 even if they both join the card.

Strikeforce will also be a family affair for the chiseled Santos. Her husband, Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos, was also signed to the promotion in 2008, but the gritty veteran has yet to fight for them.

“My dream is to fight in the same event and in same night with my husband Evangelista Cyborg,” said Santos in a statement provided by Strikeforce. “I'm very happy to again fight for the Americans fans. Strikeforce is now number two in the world.”

Update: XMMA matchmaker and manager Joey Benoit contacted Sherdog.com via email late Monday and stated that Santos would still be competing for the Canadian promotion on Feb. 27, per a letter from Chute Boxe President Rudimar Fedrigo. However, XMMA Vice President of Operations Matt LeBlanc notified Strikeforce by letter on Friday that it would not utilize Santos on Feb. 27 and cease advertising her appearance immediately per the pre-existing contract she'd signed with Pro Elite. Strikeforce said it also had gotten assurances from Santos' management regarding her exclusive status with the promotion.

Update notice: This item was updated at 9:27 p.m. EST with information on Santos' exclusivity with Strikeforce.
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