In December 2011, Brazilian Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos proved once again that cheaters may win in dominant fashion, but once the scam is out, their stock goes way down.  However, Santos probably did not consider the long-term impact that cheating would have on her career.

Santos, 10-1-1 as a pro fighter, last fought on the Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Masvidalcard a little over a year ago.  After her fourth “successful” defense of her Strikeforce featherweight title—a complete 16-second destruction of Hiroko Yamanaka—the Brazilian popped positive for stanozolol, a steroid commonly used on race horses.  She was subsequently stripped of her title and had her license revoked for one year.  However, this is only the beginning.  The impact of her cheating became way more important in the months to come.

Nine months prior to her violation, Strikeforce was purchased by Zuffa, and while Zuffa made it known that it would keep Strikeforce intact through 2012, most anticipated that the organization would dissolve going into 2013, which is exactly what happened.

Santos had plenty of notice, as did everyone else, that this was a possibility, and with Invicta not yet launched, the Brazilian should have known that her only chances of extending her career would be to stay on good terms with Zuffa, hoping the promotion would add women to its cards, or hope another organization would launch a big enough stage to keep the women fighters relevant.  Then again, that’s assuming she understood the situation as a whole.

Well, 2012 was a complete loss for Santos, because she was suspended and couldn’t fight anyway.  Meanwhile, Ronda Rousey was on her meteoric rise as the “woman to beat.” But even with all the calling out and trash-talking by Santos, she couldn’t have fought Rousey anyway.  Rousey continuously lashed back that she would fight Santos at bantamweight, but that’s a tough one to believe.  Steroids or not, Cyborg is a scary fighter, and Rousey probably doesn’t want to get her face rearranged this early in her young career, especially since she’s been a judoka her whole life and hasn’t really been in a true MMA brawl yet.

So, now Santos is in an even bigger predicament.

As Strikeforce wound down, the UFC added a women’s bantamweight division, but, for now, that’s it.  Invicta FC is currently the place to be for all other women’s divisions, and, as of now, nothing has been announced regarding Santos joining that promotion.

And, what about the UFC?

The Rousey-Santos hype within the UFC has been heating up as of late.  It’s no secret that UFC President Dana White has a soft spot, to say the least, for the former Olympian, Rousey.  Even after Santos, who has clearly been the aggressor in the trash-talking saga, completely called out Rousey on multiple occasions, White defended Rousey, claiming Santos didn’t want that fight.

The whole thing is pretty simple when it comes down to it.

White has no patience for steroid users, at least the ones that get caught.  Even though Santos wasn’t under the UFC banner at the time, she was still under contract with Zuffa, so this does not bode well for her.

White also thinks Rousey is the greatest thing since sliced bread, and any knowledgeable person knows that he would not hesitate to protect this asset.  When it comes down to it, Santos would make a mess of the Olympian, and White cannot afford that right now with all of the hype and contracted fights that he plans to have for her.

Invicta could be a home for Santos, but if self-preservation means anything, it wouldn’t be doing any Invicta fighters any favors by putting them in a cage with Cyborg.  However, of the top 10 featherweights on the Unified Women’s Mixed Martial Arts Rankings, she’s only fought two.  This leaves a lot of opportunity for some promotion to put together a Santos title run, and with Invicta being the premier all-women promotion, it should be jumping all over this one.

Of course, there’s still the lingering question regarding the UFC.  Santos is dominant.  Period.  Enough said.  What Cyborg did to Carano’s face is exactly what the UFC needs to get the real hype going around women’s MMA.  People are going to get really tired of another first-round Rousey armbar.  If the UFC brass wants people to take women’s divisions seriously, they need to add at least a couple more weight classes, so the women get the exposure they really deserve.

In the meantime, Cristiane Santos is sitting in the gym waiting to find out what the future holds for her.  Rousey can move up and fight at a catchweight of 140 pounds, but she doesn’t want Santos, whether she says so or not.  And Santos has a tough time making weight at 145 pounds, so her chances in the UFC women’s bantamweight division are slim to none.  At this point, her only chances would be in a UFC featherweight division or an Invicta run.

Until things get sorted out, Cyborg will be sitting on the sidelines, probably wishing she stayed away from the needle.

Photo: Cris “Cyborg” Santos (top) pummels Gina Carano (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

  • Bill

    Really well written article. Gets to the heart of the matter. I was hoping for a Rousey-Cyborg event, but it’s not going to happen anytime soon. Maybe never. As far as the Ronda Rousey UFC Show is concerned, there’s nothing there to hold my attention as a fight fan any more.

  • Dracae

    I personally wonder if she would actually be this dominant force she is without the ‘needle’.
    There was no sudden gain of muscles, and if she only used before the fight she got caught.. the question begs: why???
    She did not need to ad more power at that point in time because the smart money is on her having used steroids all her career to GET that powerful.