Carano Vs. Cyborg: Fight of The Year or Death of Female MMA?

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Carano Vs. Cyborg: Fight of The Year or Death of Female MMA?
(Photo by Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images)

I never thought I would find myself saying this but I think I may have just witnessed the fight of the year in MMA. That’s not weird in and of itself, but the shocking aspect of my previous statement is that the fight I am referring to was between two women.

The most hyped female MMA match-up finally took place this past Saturday when rising superstar Gina Carano went toe to toe with the scariest woman in the world, Christiane Santos.

If that name doesn’t ring a bell it’s probably because she has become known worldwide as “Cyborg”, a nickname that only makes sense once you’ve seen her inside the cage.

Before I continue I must first make a confession.

Since being introduced to Gina Carano a little over a year ago, it is safe to say I have been somewhat smitten with MMA’s most captivating female figurehead.

I feel the need to bring this up because if it wasn’t for my infatuation with Ms. Carano, my ever growing attraction to her movie-star good looks, and my constant need to catch a glimpse of her whenever possible, than I probably wouldn’t have watched this fight or any other fight between two women for that matter.

Of the less than five woman v woman fights I have seen which have not involved Gina, there was not one that didn’t cause me to turn either nauseous, uncomfortable, or send me into a defensive state of chauvinistic name-calling. There was just something about seeing two women, no matter how strong or capable they looked, nailing each other in the face with endless aggression that just didn’t work for me.

Anyone who thinks it’s like seeing two chicks go at it in a bar does not know what they are talking about—These women are as trained as the professional male fighters we all know so well, and like them they are trained to attack with no remorse or hesitation. Picture Chuck Liddell with a ponytail and a sports bra. Enough said.

I decided I couldn’t handle it and luckily for me, Dana White, the man responsible for setting the major trends in the US MMA circuit also decided he wouldn’t make female mixed martial arts a part of the UFC empire.

Some might say that if Gina Carano hadn’t come along, that close to no one in the United States would have ever seen women in the cage doing anything other than holding up a card with a number on it.

But she did come along. It was the perfect storm.

In a sport where you have gorgeous women parading around the outskirts of the cage as eye candy, the only thing that could possibly be more inclusive is to have a woman that is better looking than all of these professional lookers, but also gets in the cage and whoops ass—Enter Gina Carano.

The logic behind why people stare at a car crash while driving by can be applied here when you think about how much more interesting a car crash seems when it has taken place between a small semi truck and a brand new purple Lamborghini. I’m sure I don’t have to explain which vehicle is Gina in that analogy.

My love for Gina is what made Saturday night’s fight so hard to watch, but also what got me to watch it in the first place. I had to be there in case the love of my life somehow pulled the upset.

It was almost hard for most people to consider it an upset going in, since Carano is so much more famous than Cyborg in the US, but Vegas had her as a pretty significant underdog in the fight on Saturday. As usual when it comes to MMA, Vegas was right.


From the early moments of the fight it was pretty clear that Cyborg was going to dominate, but after a minute or so it also became clear that Carano was going to have to be stopped, and stopped commandingly, before ever giving up.

What made this such a jaw dropping battle was that because they are women, and simply by design are just more malleable, it seemed as if they were trading position at a much higher rate than male fighters do. One minute it would look like Carano was finished and within seconds she was able to reposition herself on top of Cyborg and get some great hits in herself.

At the risk of sounding sexist, the feminine aspect of both these women’s heart, fighting style, and body type is what turned this into a war for the ages.

The same way Stephen Bonner and Forrest Griffin were tagged as having the best UFC fight ever for refusing to give up and going back and forth for the entire fight, Carano and Cyborg, although only for one round, proved that women might even be better designed for these all out wars than men are.

The fact that neither women could knock the other out with one well-connected blow caused them to land strike after another, each as cringe inducing as the next, without the fight being stopped by a knockout or a referee stoppage.

For a sport that has seen so many early stoppages lately, including a controversial finish at UFC 101 a couple weeks ago, this main event went even longer than it probably should have.

As much as everyone financially invested in this fight probably wanted it to last that ten extra seconds to go into round two, finally Carano could not defend herself and Cyborg just kept pounding her into oblivion. The referee had no choice but to call it.

Seeing the woman of my dreams crushed before my eyes is something that has definitely been burned into my brain, and will take a while to fade away. However, this fight did more for MMA than any other fight this year with the exception of Lesnar Vs. Mir at UFC 100.

This fight was allowed to get as crazy as it did simply because it was between two women. Put two men in this fight and the referee stops it after three clean hits connected by whoever the male version of Cyborg might be. Because the well-trained referee decided to let this go as long as it possibly could have we were able to witness two things.

First, we saw the clear-cut queen of the entire sport go down in a blaze of glory like no other fighter has in a long, long time. The second thing that at least I witnessed, was that because of the naturally more brutal nature of woman v woman MMA, unless the adorable and desirable Gina Carano is involved, I will probably not be watching.

It will be interesting to see what affect this fight has on the rest of the MMA faithful, because although it proved to me that the woman do have what it takes to compete in this brutal sport, it also proved to me that I don’t have what it takes to watch a woman get messed up so badly.

Luckily for the sport, their own personal angel, Gina Carano, doesn’t look like she’s quitting any time soon, so at least once every so often they’ll have me glued to the screen, and for now, that might just be good enough.

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