The world of mixed martial arts got just a little bit smaller this month as the groundbreaking and historical news was broke that UFC parent company Zuffa had purchased its closest competitor, Strikeforce.
Immediately, a plethora of questions were asked and very very few of them were answered. The current general understanding is that the UFC and Strikeforce will continue on different paths, under common ownership.
Some MMA fans may have been born at night, but not last night. So to assume that all is well and the world's two premier fight organizations are going to continue blazing different trails is feasible in the short term, but ludicrous for any long term projections.
There are just no two ways about that.
There is no logical reason whatsoever for Zuffa to avoid crossing the career paths of many competitors now found under their employ. The possibilities are endless, and have been chewed on and regurgitated endlessly since this news broke.
Superman vs Batman, The Grinch vs Santa Claus, and every other match up under the sun has been proposed by rabid MMA enthusiasts and media outlets. And damn it those are great matches, why not make them happen? At the very least give us Diaz vs GSP, or "Jacare" vs "The Spider", come on people.
The logic and the logistics may only be known by Zuffa but one thing is certain. With all those aces in their deck, surely they will eventually have to play their best hand. Their best hand involves either cross promotion or absorption of the most elite Strikeforce competitors.
When we talk about the Strikeforce elite, many names come to mind. The potential UFC vs Strikeforce match ups make fight fans salivate, and rightfully so. Who wouldn't want to see Cain Velasquez hook 'em up with the winner of the Strikeforce HW tournament?
But for all the potential match ups that could be historical and extremely compelling, there is one Strikeforce fighter that may deserve their time under the UFC limelight more so than any other competitor under the Strikeforce banner.
The majority of Strikeforce competitors either chose not to compete for the UFC in their careers, or simply never got the call from Joe Silva. Regardless, either their abilities kept them out of the greatest fighting organization in the world, or they made a decision.
Hendo and Fedor are great examples. Both had the ball in their court and both chose Strikeforce for their own reasons. Paul Daley was exiled from the UFC. And countless other fighters just simply didn't make the grade which was out of their control.
Regardless, they all have some sort of control over their potential to compete under that banner. There is one fighter who competes in a demographic of fighters that have never had one ounce of control over their UFC eligibility.
Female mixed martial artists are that demographic, and Christiane "Cyborg" Santos is the one fighter under the Strikeforce banner who deserves an extremely close look by the UFC as to what her future with not only either promotion, but this entire sport will be.
"Cyborg" represents a wild card in this absorption, and when we talk about playing smart hands, that wild card could make or break an entire genre of mixed martial arts.
Standing at 10-1, holding a Strikeforce title with two defenses, and having steamrolled every poor soul to ever dare entering a cage with her, Santos has forced her way to becoming the face of women's MMA.
She has suffered only one loss in here career and it was her pro debut. Other than that, she has simply smashed all comers and done so with an iron fist. Eight of her ten wins were by way of stoppage, TKO to be precise.
She represents a difficult equation for not only the UFC, but for Strikeforce as well. It is safe to say, and many people might agree, that Santos would go so far as to destroy many male opponents in her weight division. There are 145'ers out there who could make better decisions than squaring off with this MMA Queen.
Her quality is unmatched in her world, the world of women's MMA. Her abilities are reminiscent of a female version of GSP or Anderson Silva. She is dominant, aggressive, entertaining, and simply unstoppable.
She is a fighter amongst fighters, she is a true representation of MMA, simply put she raises the bar. And that, fight fans, is what MMA is all about.
So what is the UFC to do? What do they do with this gleaming shining star that fulfills all they want out of a fighter other than gender? When Dana White talks about the type of guys he wants on his roster, if you read her stats without claiming her sex, Santos is exactly what Dana is looking for.
Yet it is no mystery how White feels about women's MMA. He is not the biggest fan and does not take a supportive tone. One thing is certain, regardless of how he feels, his stance is that the UFC will not condone nor promote female fights.
That position becomes quite the quandary when considering recent revelations regarding the Strikeforce purchase.
Here the UFC and Strikeforce sit. With short term goals of staying the course, but in the long term there have to be ideas of unification and absorption of talent. How on god's green earth can the UFC overlook the quality of a champion like Santos?
No, seriously, think about it, how can they take a pass on what could quite possibly prove to become the face of women's MMA forever. Not unlike a Royce Gracie did for all of MMA, or Fedor did for Pride, or Chuck and Randy for the UFC.
Santos will most likely forever be remembered as the spear head of women's MMA. Let's face it, Gina Carano is an amazing athlete, and makes a picture perfect poster girl for women's MMA. But come on fight fans, Santos is the real deal. Perhaps not as girly as a Carano, but she is damn sure the litmus test of ladies in this sport.
Miss, if you can't set your sights to compete with Santos, you might as well stay home, simply put.
So again, what is the UFC to do when the chips start to really be laid on the table? When the cross overs begin, and they will happen, where does that leave Santos, where does that leave women's MMA.
Listen, Santos may be the topic here but she is not the end of the line for this aspect of MMA. With talents like Marloes Coenen, Meisha Tate, and even Bellator's Megumi Fujii or Zoila Frausto, this is happening whether Dana likes it or not.
People are getting behind these ladies, they are supporting them, and they recognize the quality in their competition. They are buying in, and someone over at the UFC had better listen up before all these ladies wind up under the Bellator banner.
If one thing is certain it is that the UFC desires to hold all the cards, they want to crush their competition. By closing the door on women's MMA they leave the door wide open for Bellator to swoop in and steal that particular aspect of the show.
And for what it is worth, that would be fine for MMA as a whole. The competition is great. But to watch the UFC sink its hooks in on Strikeforce and eventually squeeze the neck, it would be a slap in the face to these ladies if they are left in the rear view as fighters like "Jacare", Melendez, and Diaz make their way to the UFC, if that indeed does happen.
So to see this situation peaking over the horizon it seems like one of the most important questions needing an answer. The male fighters will find their niche and get in where they fit in. Will Santos be left with her championship belt in one hand and the other raised in the air so as to say "What about me"?
The evolution of MMA has been relentless and therapeutic for the entire sport, fighters, promotions, and the fans. We have watched and labored as something we thought was interesting took the shape of a world class sport.
Sometimes for an idea to evolve like MMA has, doors have to be kicked in, walls have to be brought down, now is time for close minded theories, and self righteous perceptions to be overhauled.
Put down your personal emotions on the subject for just a moment and realize what it is that is being debated here.
Take one good look at Christiane Santos, review her abilities and what she has done in this sport. Then tell me with a straight face she doesn't 100% deserve to become the first ever UFC women's 145 pound champion.
If you can do that, you tell me all I need to know about you as a fan of this sport. Point being is that you aren't a fan, that you don't have any idea what this is all about, or what it means to the people who destroy themselves in the gym and live and die with every punch, kick, and takedown.
Santos is MMA, and if you can't see that, you are blind to the entire thing, you simply don't have a clue.
The time for women's MMA in the UFC is now, there has never been a better time to tear down this wall of segregation in MMA. The time is now, right now.
This article originally featured at Hurtsbad MMA.