Carano vs. Santos: Boldly Predicting Where No Woman Has Gone Before

Ken FossAnalyst IAugust 13, 2009

Santos vs. Carano, now flanked with just one compelling title fight and another that's completely non-compelling, will look to propel WMMA into the limelight.

On Aug. 15 2009, The sport of WMMA will get its figurehead, a division will be formed, and top fighters given the opportunity at regular fights against top competition. 

While I don't share Loretta Hunt's stance that UFC 100 will be drowned out by the impending wave of this single fight, I do believe the division can be every bit as competitive as the 145-pound men's division, say 10 months ago. 

People lately have been caught up more on what this means for the future, and I've also been in that discussion, so no sense hashing up old stories If you haven't read E. Spencer Kyte's story, Gina Carano vs. Cris Cyborg: Redefining What It Means To Hit Like a Girl, you should. It covers that angle.

I, on the other hand, will do the fun part, break down the fight. For those of you who read my Lesnar vs. Mir breakdown, you'll remember the format.

Gina Carano


Stand Up

Gina Carano's stand up is her best asset. Her long ranged kicks, namely her roundhouse and straight kicks (chest seekers) allow her to keep lesser opponents at range, and add alot more to her outside striking game then most women have at this point in the sports development.

Her shortish reach means she has to stand in the pocket with a lot of girls, something she's never been afraid to do.

Good hand speed, not great though as well as excellent, if occasionally sloppy footwork allow her to outpoint and demoralize alot of people she stands with for prolonged periods, this was very apparent in the Kedzie and Kobold fights.

Not a lot of thunder in her punches or kicks, it means she's going to struggle to close out fights emphatically. She doesn't use any head movement at all, you can hit her, and hit her often if you can beat her to the punch. 


Ground Game

Not great at using single- or double-leg takedowns, the only time you'll likely see the fight head to the ground is if she catches a body kick, something she is very good at.

Struggles to control her opponent once she gets it there, not very well-versed in submissions, but no slouch at defending them; you're not going to embarrass Carano on the ground unless you're supremely talented.

Gina's ground and pound is prodding but effective; she struggles to finish fights with it, but the damage she does is good enough to score her points and make opponents respect the shots as they come.

Her bottom game is very good, but again not great, she's not a threat to submit you, but she's capable of showcasing some good control, and rubber guard.

She's got a solid set of sweeps she's used before on overly aggressive fighters, and can fight her way back to standing.



Gina has struggled to make weight. In every one of her fights she's shown up very bulky, and I believe its slowed her down in all her televised fights, and kept her opponents in the fight. It's going to be hard to see how she's going to cope with a full 25-minute fight.

She's also been inactive for over a year now, and Cyborg is not the woman to be kicking off ring rust against.

A solid fighter comparison would be a female version of Rich Franklin, with the gas tank of BJ Penn, at 155.


Cristiane Santos


Stand Up

Cyborg is just inhuman; you look at her strike and you can just tell she's light-years away from almost every other woman in the game today.

Her dump-trucking of Hitomi Akano, who prior had never been knocked out in 20 fights, was an absolute statement on her abilities, she's the fastest, strongest, and has the most knockout power of any woman at 145, and possibly in the entire sport itself.

Her footwork is a little suspect; she'll slip and lose her balance often due to her reckless, but very effective style.

In the clinch she's not as effective and is vulnerable to the takedown, and frankly isn't interested in stopping the onslaught of vicious 1-2 combinations.

From time to time, she'll work in lightning fast hard leg kicks and switch kicks that really showcase her athletic ability.


Ground Game

Her strength and athletic ability allow her to get the fight here whenever she wants, but she really isn't that imposing on the ground, she's extremely vulnerable to leg-locks and arm-bars. She's been finished by lesser opposition this way in her only loss.

Her ability to pass is very poor, and I can't remember a dominating position she hasn't gained by clubbing someone upside the head first.

However if you choose to go this route be very careful of her vicious ground and pound, iron wills, and chins will be needed to make the "Frank Mir" work.



Her gas tank has never run dry, but then again she's never had to go longer than nine minutes in any of her previous fights. She did look a little ragged at the end of the Akano fight, but it sure didn't seem to phase her much.

Very charismatic in her own right, she's really started to embrace the limelight, If she ever learned English, I think people could more easily overlook her looks, and embrace her as the truly enthralling fighter she is.

At 24 she's got a lot of career left, any way this goes rematch would be very likely if she lost.

An accurate fighter comparison would be Wanderlei Silva, or Anderson Silva.



When looking at this fight its easy to say Cyborg, could end this fight very quickly.

I think that would be selling the highly accomplished Gina Carano short. I trust a member of Xtreme Couture to come up with a solid game plan to stymie the Brazilian for at least the first five minutes of the fight.

This fight could become a war, though, as Gina slows down in the second round, and the longer it goes, the better it is for Cyborg. If at any point, Cyborg begins to stalk her prey, expect an explosive finish.

I hope Gina is in the best shape of her life, and she better be ready, because if not, they'll need a butter knife to scrape her off the canvas.

This is the fight Gina has waited her whole life for: the opportunity to prove that beneath that cover-model exterior beats the heart of a champion.

I wish her luck.

Either way, we'll find out what the sport of Mixed Martial Arts, both male and female, is all about, and that's all you can ask from a main event, isn't it? 

Bold Prediction: Cyborg by TKO (punches) in round 3 to win the Strikeforce Women's Title.