Is Strikeforce doing the right thing with Cristiane Santos?
Admittedly, I enjoy ragging on Strikeforce. As the UFC’s “little brother,” the secondary MMA promotion trying so hard to emulate or best the big one, it so often falls flat on its face. It mishandles its champions. It repeatedly backs and hypes the wrong fighters (read: Emelianenko, Fedor) and sees them lose.
But it’s time for me to give credit where credit is due. Strikeforce is actually doing something right these days. It’s protecting its best fighter’s image.
That fighter? Nope, not Nick Diaz. Wrong gender, actually. It’s Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos. And, by not making any matchups for her and potential title challengers, Scott Coker is thinking of the bigger picture and being very prudent.
Cyborg is frustrated with Strikeforce for giving her no one to fight. Rumors have even circulated that the Muay Thai master is considering a jump to the WWE. Even if that isn’t true, it’s at least probably a ploy by Cyborg’s camp to motivate Strikeforce into finding her a matchup.
But Strikeforce has been smart to hold back. The reason: it has to wait for the rest of women’s MMA to catch up. Do you remember Cyborg’s last bout – the title fight in June of 2010 against Jan Finney? It was a disgrace. It was a violent, disturbing, one-sided beatdown. The referee repeatedly begged, “Fight back, Jan. Fight back.” Cyborg was so dominant that the crowd pretty much turned on her and started booing, treating her like a schoolyard bully who was going too hard on the nerd.
The fight was supposed to showcase what I believe is Strikeforce’s best and most marketable fighter relative to ability and division but instead it was a black mark. It highlighted the ugly side of MMA and turned fans off.
That’s why Strikeforce’s recent handling of Cyborg Santos should be applauded. By letting the other challengers duke it out for a year, they’ve given those female fighters valuable experience. Hopefully that means that Cyborg’s next opponent won’t be so overmatched. It will make Strikeforce look better and, more importantly, it will protect Cyborg’s image. She deserves to be praised and respected by fans, not slammed for being “too good.”
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