Jayne Kamin-Oncea, US PRESSWIRE
SAN DIEGO -- Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos' gym, The Arena, sits adjacent to the Valley View Casino Center, home of Saturday night's Strikeforce card.
Yet, even though Santos and her main rival, Ronda Rousey, were almost close enough to each other to have a face-to-face conversation, the two instead traded shots that could be heard around the world of mixed martial arts.
After making short work of former champion Sarah Kaufman in Saturday night's Strikeforce main event, Rousey, the Strikeforce women's bantamweight champion, was once again asked about the prospects of a bout with Santos, which has the potential to become the biggest fight in women's MMA history.
And once again, the champion, who challenged Santos in her postfight interview, made it clear that she's the one holding all the cards. If the currently suspended "Cyborg" wants to make the match, then the former 145-pound titleholder is going to have to come down to bantamweight and meet Rousey.
"When she was champion, I know she was doping but I couldn't prove it," Rousey said of Santos. "There was that situation so I thought, alright, you have to come to the champion. Now things have changed, now I'm the champion and I have the title for a reason and now she has to come to me."
"I don't owe her anything. And she needs to fight me more than I need to fight her. There's a line, they all want to beat me up now. So, really, she needs to come to me."
For her part, "Cyborg," as of now, played the only card she could by saying the fight is off. In response to Rousey's statements, she tweeted: "Guys, cannot believe this fight will happen. My class has no more. I'm waiting for my liberation from the UFC."
She also tweeted "Maybe you will see me at the event @InvictaFights," but then deleted it.
Zuffa officials have some time to work with both Rousey and Santos and try to get one or the other to budge, since, of course, Santos is under suspension by the California State Athletic Commission after testing positive for steroids in December.
For all the posturing on both sides, it's obvious that a potential Rousey-Santos fight is the biggest bout that can be made in women's MMA by a landslide. Rousey has rolled through all her competition, winning all six of her pro bouts via first-round armbar, and she's become a rock star in the process. Santos, while her record is tainted due to her suspension, has likewise torn through her competition. She won 10 straight fights before her 16-second knockout of Hiroki Yamanaka was changed to a no-contest due to the test results.
The biggest fight in women's mixed martial arts history remains the Santos vs. Gina Carano fight in San Jose, Calif. on Aug. 13, 2009. Santos TKO'd Carano in the final second of the first round to win the inaugural 145-pound championship. The bout drew a crowd of 13,976 and a gate of $736,000. It drew an average of 576,000 viewers, making it the most watched MMA event on Showtime, a record it held until last year's Fedor Emelianenko-Antonio Silva fight.
"I think that records are meant to be broken," said Strikeforce's Scott Coker, who said a Rousey-Santos fight would be on Showtime under the Strikeforce banner and would not be a special attraction on a UFC event. "
"The Carano-‘Cyborg' fight was one of the highest-rated shows on Showtime, was the highest-rated MMA show on Showtime until we started the heavyweight tournament in February of last year. For two years it held the record. So I believe once we get that fight together, it will beat the past ratings record and the past gate record because it's going to be probably the biggest fight in the history of [women's] mixed martial arts."
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