Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cris Cyborg Mauls Gina Carano In Strikeforce Main Event

By Ross Everett

Gina Carano put women's MMA on the map, but Cris Cyborg Santos may have become the sports first dominant female champion by virtue of her overwhelming TKO victory in the main event of Saturdays STRIKEFORCE event. Cyborg simply was too physically strong and her punches too powerful for Carano, who fought valiantly before succumbing to a barrage of ground and pound punches with one second remaining in the first round.

Before a near capacity crowd at San Jose's HP Pavilion, Carano and Cyborg made history as the first women to headline a major US mixed martial arts event. Cyborg entered the cage first to a mostly negative reaction, stopping along the way to shadow box and throw kicks on the entrance ramp. The crowd went nuts for Carano, who was accompanied into the arena by Randy Couture who trained her for the matchup.

Despite the fight being scheduled for five rounds of five minutes each, the women set a frantic pace from the opening horn. Cyborgs size and strength advantage was apparent from the outset, as she landed an immediate flurry of punches before taking Carano to the canvas. Carano landed in top position, but quickly found herself in trouble as Cyborg worked for a kneebar and then a heel hook. Carano was able to extricate herself, and get to her feet but Cyborg took her back and immediately took her down again.

Carano was able to land a couple of effective jabs on the ensuing standup exchange, but Cyborg caught a body kick attempt and quickly closed the distance again. Cyborg once again took her opponent to the mat and after an unsuccessful armbar attempt mounted Carano and began a brutal punching assault that eventually forced the stoppage at 4:59 of the first round.

Despite Cyborgs triumph the most dominating performance of the evening belonged to former DREAM middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi. In his first fight at 205, Mousasi destroyed STRIKEFORCE light heavyweight champion Renato Babalu Sobral via TKO at the 1:00 mark of the first round. Mousasis victory wasnt a shocking outcome, but the utter ease with which he handled a tough, experienced and well rounded opponent in Sobral was stunning and evoked comparisons to recently signed heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko.

Earlier in a card full of decisive finishes, Gilbert Melendez became STRIKEFORCE interim lightweight champion with a third round TKO victory over the double tough Mitsuhiro Ishida. Though Melendez dominated the fight, Ishida gained the respect of fans with his toughness and heart.

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