Cristiane 'Cyborg' Santos' Suspension for Steriods Could Ruin Women's MMA

Jordy McElroy@ IJanuary 8, 2012

Once considered the "baddest women on the planet," Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos now faces steroid allegations that could have a major impact on her career and quite possibly all of women's MMA.

Like many sports, MMA has come along slowly in its acceptance of female participants. There has always been world class female talent, but they were never given a mainstream platform to display their skills.

That all changed on February 10, 2007.

In the first televised female fight on Showtime, Gina Carano and Julie Kedzie stole the show in an unforgettable performance that proved women deserved a place on the mainstream MMA stage.

There was a special feeling that night, as fans stood and clapped throughout the entire arena. These ladies left a permanent mark on the sport that would open the door for thousands of other aspiring female fighters.

Cyborg was one of those fighters.

The 145-pound Amazonian stepped onto the mainstream stage in July 2008 and proceeded to go on an extended reign of terror that would test the logic of the often used phrased, "no one is unbeatable."

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Cyborg isn't just any woman. She has the muscular frame and athleticism to hang with most men in the featherweight division.

Still, fans didn't generally begin warming up to Cyborg until she defeated Carano in their historic August 2009 Strikeforce championship bout. The bout marked the first time a major MMA fight card carried a female bout as its main attraction.

Carano, who was widely considered the face of women's MMA, was forced to hand over the reins to Cyborg after enduring a rather one-sided beatdown.

After dispatching of Carano, there really weren't many suitable challengers left for Cyborg. Strikeforce was constantly forced to scour the globe in search of legitimate opposition ready and willing to step into the cage against the champ.

Cyborg had grown into a cult phenomenon for MMA fans. She represented the sport in its rawest and truest form. There weren't any modeling or Hollywood ambitions. Cyborg was fighter through and through.

With Carano out of the picture, Cyborg quickly grew into the main attraction in all of women's MMA, but one bad decision may have changed everything.

Cyborg tested positive for the anabolic steroid stanozolol in a drug test taken a day before her first-round December 17 knockout win over Hiroko Yamanaka.

"We were going to hold that division and just do fights with Cyborg whenever there was a new contender," UFC President Dana White said in a radio interview with ESPN 1100 Las Vegas. "She's getting stripped of the title. This pretty much kills the division."

Where does women's MMA go from here?

Thankfully, Strikeforce will stick around for at least a little while longer and continue to push the 135-pound division, but Cyborg's misstep could have huge future ramifications on the sport.

There are tremendous female talents such as Megumi Fujii, Miesha Tate, Sarah Kaufman, Tara LaRosa and Zoila Gurgel, but none have broken the mold like Cyborg. She blurred the lines between men and women in MMA.

Some publications even went as far as to include her in the men's pound-for-pound rankings. Cyborg was the last major female draw capable of propelling women's MMA all the way to the bright lights of the UFC.

With her gone, women's MMA clings to life in one division in a wavering promotion.

As for Cyborg, she may have tarnished her image for good. Fans won't just look to her bout with Yamanaka.

Now, people will begin to question her entire career and the legitimacy of her climb to the top of the MMA world.