One of the marquee match-ups taking place on Saturday night at Strikeforce: Miami will be a Women's Lightweight championship showdown between the current champion Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos (8-1, 2-0 SF) and the challenger in Golden Glory's Marloes Coenen (17-3, 1-0 SF). The bout should be considered a significant challenge to Santos' crown, although the power and tenacity that she imposes on her opponents have leaned most of the MMA community toward Santos in this fight. Many fans believe Coenen's rise could be directly correlated to her "good looks", but her record should speak volumes for her as a legitimate challenger.
Santos enters the contest following her championship title victory over Gina "Conviction" Carano back in August in which she pounded the challenger with vicious power toward the end of the round to win. Coenen's lone Strikeforce battle was a battle with Roxanne Modaferri in which she avenged her previous loss to Modaferri from back in May of 2007 with a first round submission via armbar.
Stylistically, this is a tough fight to gauge at a glance due to the tenacity that Santos brings to a fight. We may very well be in for a brutalizing beatdown once again as it seems that most of her opposition cannot compete with the power she possesses. Coenen's roots at Golden Glory should give her the striking ability to surgically pick apart her opponent in Santos, but as we've seen throughout the history of mixed martial arts -- power can overcome technique or vice versa.
If history is any indication however, Coenen hasn't been a K-1 type of fighter in the cage. She's won most of her battles via submission, but she's mentioned in interviews leading up to this contest that she'd like to show the world her high-level striking. While I think Coenen may possess some good striking ability, Santos' strength will ultimately put this fight to the ground if she gets into trouble early.
That's where this fight will most likely end. It's tough to ignore the fact that Santos trains only with men, and she happens to train with some of the better men's mixed martial artists in the world. She's powerful enough to dump heavier men's fighters to the ground in training, and I see no reason why Coenen will be a significant challenge in doing the same.
Coenen's skills on the floor are solid in the grappling department, but the ground game is an entirely different beast when we're talking about a powerful opponent like Santos. Santos also happens to posses good BJJ skills through her training, but it's pretty obvious that punching another girl in the face is a much simpler means to an end.
I can't go against the consensus thought here. While Coenen has the pedigree to be a solid striker and the proven skills on the floor, Santos' monster strength is the ultimate x-factor in any fight she's involved in. She's a Herculean nightmare to anyone across the cage from her, and I'm confident she'll end this bout within the first two rounds via TKO.