Cagewriter - Mixed Martial Arts

What an atmosphere and what a one-round fight. Gina Carano and Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos slugged it out all over the cage for what seemed like the longest five-minute round in MMA history. Cyborg was slightly ahead in the round when she got the fight to the ground with less than 20 seconds left. Carano covered up and took 15 unanswered shots on her arms and to the face through her guard. When Carano wasn't moving or defending herself, referee Josh Rosenthal felt compelled to stop the fight. The crowd seemed to think he could've held off since there was just one second left in the round. Cyborg (8-1) wins the Strikeforce women's lightweight title at the 4:59 mark of the first.

"I was ready for five rounds if necessary," said Cyborg. With a title on the line, the fight was was slated for five, five minute rounds. "I felt at that point it was time to finish the fight. I started to harder but I didn’t know there was like five seconds away from the end of the round. I felt like Gina kind of closed her guard and turned around a little bit. That’s when I went for the stronger punches."

Carano (7-1) was emotional in the cage as they announced the winner and handed the belt to Cyborg. It was the first loss of her career. She was more than competitive throughout, withstanding multiple flurries and attacks from Cyborg. She actually powered out of a kimura Americana attempt with less than 40 seconds left in the round, and at times she looked like the crisper striker. But the volume coming from Cyborg was eventually too much to deal with. Cyborg delivered as a minus-170 favorite on Las Vegas betting boards.

The HP Pavilion rocked before and during the fight. There wasn't a three-second break in the action during the fight and much of the crowd was on its feet for the entire fight. It easily matched the atmosphere of any UFC or Strikeforce card featuring all male fighters.

Now the question is, can Strikeforce and women's fighting build the sport around someone who isn't a beauty queen? Whether that statement offends you or not, reality is there was a reason Carano was part of American Gladiators and did so many appearances on shows like Craig Ferguson and Jimmy Kimmel. That said, Carano is also far from finished. She proved even in a loss that she's a legitimate fighter. Maybe we see a rematch after both fighters get to test their skills against some of the other women as the sport grows.

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