This article was originally featured on fiveknuckles.com
Once upon a time, there was a fighter so devastatingly powerful that he ignited fear into the heart of any man who dared to stand across the ring from him. From his brutal knockouts over Quinton "Rampage" Jackson to his man-handling of Kazushi Sakuraba, Wanderlei Silva once ruled the MMA kingdom with an iron fist.
However, his reign of terror is no more. Silva is far from being the dominant fighter he was back in the Pride Fighting Championships. Other than a triumphant knockout win over Keith Jardine at UFC 84, "The Axe-Murderer" hasn't won a fight in three years.
While Silva struggles for relevancy in the UFC, a new "Axe-Murderer" is wreaking havoc in a rival organization, Strikeforce.
As the 145-pound Women's champion, Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos has been destroying her foes left from right in demoralizing fashion, leaving a trail of destruction behind her.
The similarities between Santos and Silva are quite distinctive. Silva developed his go-for-broke fighting style through years of training at the legendary Chute Box Academy located in Brazil, which is exactly where "Cyborg" trains on a daily basis.
Santos is clearly the female version of "The Axe-Murderer" in his prime, although believe it or not "Cyborg" is actually more dangerous to her division than Silva was to his back in PRIDE.
When "The Axe-Murderer" was chopping though victims in the PRIDE middleweight (light-heavyweight) division, he at least was faced with difficult challengers in the form of Dan Henderson, Ricardo Arona, and Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic.
The Strikeforce women's division is filled with talented female competitors, but do any of them, realistically, match-up well with "Cyborg?"
Coenen is a sturdy challenger for Santos, and presents a swift standup arsenal mixed with a lethal ground game that could be the recipe for upsetting the Chute Box striker. Emphasis on the word "could."
Coenen "could upset" Santos, but is Coenen any different than Carano, or any of "Cyborg's" previous victims? She's certainly a talented fighter, but just like the beautiful Carano, Coenen will crumble to "Cyborg's" power.
So if you thought "The Axe-Murderer" was dominant in PRIDE, expect "Cyborg" to nearly double that dominance in the women's lightweight division. After she disposes of Coenen, many more will fall victim to the Brazilian monster.
Top ranked female lightweights Erin Toughill, Kelly Kobald, and Elaina Maxwell would certainly pose intriguing matchups for Santos, but if, and when, she disposes of them who would be next to cross her path of dominance? A rematch with Carano would be a huge draw, but then what?
Unless someone rises up and dethrones the Brazilian wrecking machine, "Cyborg" will continue to dominate Women's MMA and surpass the dominance of a prime Wanderlei Silva.
Whether that's a positive or negative thing for Women's MMA remains to be seen. Fans loved watching Silva destroy his competition in PRIDE, and they still love watching him fight to this day, so surely "Cyborg" will have the same impact.
On the other hand, Women's MMA is extremely difficult to promote because other than Carano and "Cyborg", female fighters are not entirely well known by the fans. Would anyone really jump for joy to watch Santos beat down a "no-name" fighter time and time again?
Strikeforce will have to up their marketing strategy for their female division. If you're going to have a dominant champion in Santos running rampant throughout the weight-class, it may as well be against recognizable opponents. Otherwise, fans just simply won't care.