Every so often you’ll hear about a fighter being on the verge of cleaning out a division and being left without any legitimate contenders to face. However, in the case of Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos, the women’s 145-pound division in Strikeforce has been relatively spotless for years and she’s been left with subpar competition to work with as a result. The latest example of this came over the weekend when Santos destroyed the alleged #2 featherweight in the world Hiroko Yamanaka with absolute ease despite an eighteen month layoff from action.
I suppose some people enjoy watching overmatched, undersized adversaries pummeled from start to finish, but personally I’d prefer to see two gladiators go at it rather than a helpless slave attempt to fend off a bloodthirsty lioness. When it comes to high-level athletics I want to see actual competition, not the 2011 Green Pay Packers vs. the JV Squad from an area high school. Unfortunately, as long as Santos continues to fight at 145, minus a potential date with Olympic judoka Ronda Rousey, that’s simply not going to happen and as such I’m growing bored with the scenario.
Granted, it’s not the explosive Brazilian’s fault. She’s phenomenally talented and it’s not her responsibility to develop featherweight depth. If anything Santos is a victim of circumstance. Still, that doesn’t change the fact she’s got no real challengers in her current weight-class and such a situation makes her less intriguing to watch than someone like Jon Jones or Georges St. Pierre who excel in the face of true adversity.
The only solution is for “Cyborg” to slim down and Strikeforce to keep the female featherweight division as a means of the occasional undercard fight to help grow the tiers until someone emerges as a potential threat to Santos’ strap. Even if she fights Rousey it doesn’t solve the problem because neither has any other opposition to defend the belt against. Santos has said making 135 would be tough on her but with as much muscle as she’s carrying there’s no doubt in my mind the transition wouldn’t be particularly difficult. She just needs to cut back on lifting and focus on conditioning.
At bantamweight there are a number of potentially entertaining, and possibly spirited, scraps for Santos including Alexis Davis, Liz Carmouche, Sarah Kaufman, and title-holder Miesha Tate (as well as Rousey who they could still save for a future featherweight date). Bring back Marloes Coenen now that the Golden Glory issue has been resolved and the organization would have another fantastic female to work with. That is the beginning of a real division with parity, not a pool as shallow as Kim Kardashian’s footprint where the champ wears a paper belt painted gold.
If Strikeforce takes that route fans could be in for some real treats come early/mid-2012. If not the promotion might as well sign the best 300-pounder in the world, create a Super Heavyweight Championship, and go all in on the charade that is contendership under their banner. Until then I’ll be paying attention to Santos’ career with mild interest, a shame really considering how unique her skillset truly is.
What do you think about the subject on today’s “Opening Round”? Tell us on our Twitter account (@mmatraining)!