In a little over one week, on December 17th, Cris "Cyborg" Santos will finally make her long-awaited return to the Strikeforce cage when she battles Hiroko Yamanaka for the women's featherweight title.
Yamanaka could be Santos' toughest opponent to date as she is the No. 2 fighter, according to the Unified Women's Mixed Martial Arts Rankings, the No. 10 best pound-for-pound female fighter according to MMA Weekly's poll and is three inches taller than Cris.
When this fight is broken down, all of the cards seem to fall in Cyborg's favor. She has more experience in the cage than Yamanaka does. Think of all of the fighters from Pride who transitioned to the UFC; they had a hard time adjusting to the cage.
Another advantage that goes to Cyborg is the fact that she has fought mostly Western fighters, compared to the majority of Japanese fighters that Yamanaka has fought. This is a plus because the Western fighters are typically bigger and more muscular than their Japanese counterparts (from the variances in the diets).
If you compare videos of Cyborg's fights with Yamanaka's, you will see that Cyborg is much more aggressive and in control of the action in every fight. Hiroko doesn't come out looking to press the pace and when she does, her strikes look weak and inaccurate.
The keys for victory for Santos are going to be her strength, striking abilities, aggressiveness and ground-and-pound.
This fight isn't going to go the distance because Cyborg is going to wind up beating Hiroko Yamanaka by the end of the first round or early in the second, most likely by TKO. Fans need to give Yamanaka some props though, because she is the only female who has stepped into the ring in over a year with Cris.
Win, lose or draw, this could be one of the last 145-pound bouts that Cyborg has for a while since she already stated her intention to drop down to the Strikeforce bantamweight division. All I can say is that Cyborg dropping to 135 means the top females in the league can't duck her any longer.
Make sure to tune into Strikeforce on December 17th and watch Cris "Cyborg" Santos defend her belt and remain the No. 1 pound-for-pound female fighter.