April 11, 2009
It was as predictable as Godzilla crushing an ant. Female fighting sensation Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos destroyed Hitomi Akano at the HP Pavillion in San Jose on Saturday night.
But it was a hollow victory in the eyes of most observers, after a 12-hour long weigh-in debacle in the lead up to the fight that left a black eye on the sport of women's mixed martial arts.
The fight was scheduled to be contested at 145 pounds, but Santos missed by seven pounds and the fight was nearly scrapped in the aftermath. Akano usually fights at 135 pounds and has fought as low as 128 pounds.
The massive size disparity was evident from the outset. Every time the fighters clinched, Akano, who specializes in grappling and submissions on the ground, was thrown around like a rag doll. Akano was on her horse for much the two-plus rounds attempting only 24 strikes on the feet. She landed 10 while Cyborg drilled her with 61 knees, kicks, punches and elbows over the course of seven minutes.
On Friday, Santos weighed in at 152 and was never made to cut her weight down anywhere near Akano, who weighed just 143.5.
Watch Cyborg miss weight at the initial weigh-in (0:30 mark):
Akano and her manager Shu Hirata threatened to pull out of the fight, stating it wasn't about money. Hirata said the stars of female fighting are too often allowed to ignore weight limits:
“Gina [Carano] never makes weight, but they make everybody fight. It's not fair,” said Hirata. “I think it’s really about time that we have to set the precedent that you should really make the weight.”
Negotiations ended at 2 a.m. PT and Akano was guaranteed her win bonus plus several more fights with the promotion. Reports last night said that Cyborg had already re-plenished her body back up to 158 pounds by midnight. She walked into the cage in San Jose at the Strikeforce event on Showtime roughly 20 pounds heavier and it showed.
The promotion is only partially to blame in this mess. It's the job of the California State Athletic Commission to put rules in place and adhere to them to ensure the fighters' safety. The CSAC's inconsistency is mind numbing. It'll suspend a steroid user for 9-12 months with a real chance for the fighter to appeal and it also treats a positive marijuana test as a serious offense. Yet a 20 pound weight difference in a female fight is glossed over. In the end, it all worked out with anything terrible going down. The fight was one-sided but Akano walked away and should fight again down the road, hopefully against someone her own size.
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