In the wake of Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos' failed drug test after her bout with Hiroko Yamanaka last December, the Negative Nancies have come out in droves. "Cyborg's career is over!" they've falsely declared. "Females in Mixed Martial Arts is over!" they've yelled despite the statement's inaccuracies. "The marquee division is done!" they've screamed despite 145 lbs being the thinnest division in the sport. Quite frankly, it's getting quite annoying.
I understand it's more fun to declare that the sky is falling than telling your neighbors that the sky is just the sky, but let's step back for a moment a take a look at the reality of the situation. In the infamous words of Walter Sobchak- "Nothing is f*@!ed here, dude.'
The Future of Cyborg Santos
Let me make this extremely clear. This failed test is not the end of Cyborg's career. Josh Barnett's failed test in 2002 (nor 2009) was not the end of his career. Tim Sylvia's failed test in 2003 was not the end of his career. Nate Marquardt's failed test in 2005 was not the end of his career. Vitor Belfort's failed test in 2006 was not the end of his career. Bonnar's failed test in 2006 was not the end of his career. Dennis Hallman's failed test in 2007 was not the end of his career. Chris Leben's failed test in 2008 was not the end of his career. Cristiane Santos' failed test in 2011 will not ruin her career either. Everybody treated her like a roid user before this fight, and everybody will treat her like a roid user after this fight. Especially given that she just came off a year and a half absence from the cage, with now another year off guaranteed- nothing has really changed here people.
I'd argue that this will be, in the long term, a good thing for Cyborg. Although she has indicated that her use of stanozolol to cut weight at the end of this camp, and that she had never used it before and was unaware it was prohibited. I don't buy this. When someone is having trouble cutting weight once, and use something to cut without knowing its illegal, we tend to see them using an easily obtainable diuretic of some sort. Although stanozolol is a cutting agent, it is something used to cut fat without losing muscle mass over a much longer period of time than someone using a diuretic the week of the fight. It's not a last minute, uneducated maneuver to cut those last few pounds,
If Cyborg has been using stanozolol over her career in order to keep her lean muscle mass while cutting fat, getting caught will force her (hopefully) to abandon this tactic moving forward. Without the aid of the drug, she will be forced to cut lean muscle in order to make weight. To me, being forced to take a year off and most likely transform her body to a smaller size in order to make weight without the assistance of this drug will ultimately be good for Cyborg. If she is truly serious about cutting to 135 lbs, she now has a year to do it and an environment in which the lack of steroids won't be unnaturally keeping her muscle mass around. If Cyborg can make 135 lbs, her career will be much much brighter in the long run.
The Future of Female Fights in Strikeforce
I'm not going to disagree with anybody here, the 145 lbs division in Strikeforce is most likely not going to continue. However, this whole notion that the 145 lbs division is the marquee women's division is hogwash. If you are a real casual fan of the female side of the sport, I can understand you seeing the biggest hype for the lady's coming by way of Gina Carano and Cyborg Santos, two 145ers, and link that to this being the big division. But it really truly is not. The 145 pound division is the thinnest division in the sport. If there was to be a division on the woman's end of the sport to be dissipated, it would be 145 pounds.
With luck, Strikeforce no longer promoting 145 pound female fights may end up being a huge positive for the sport. If Zuffa takes this opening to redirect their efforts towards the 125 pound division, arguably the strongest female division in MMA, we will not only have much better fights, but the casual fans will be introduced to a second stacked division instead of one that is thin and weak- which has only come to foster the opinion that women's MMA does not have thick enough divisions. For those of you not too familiar with the 125 pound division, which is currently not being promoted at a national level and has nearly all the top fighters open to be contracted. Gal's Guide to MMA community contributor Chromium created a nice quick list just the other day
-Tara Larosa (20-2; notable wins include Takayo Hashi, Carina Damm, Sally Krumdiack, Alexis Davis, Kelly Kobold, Shayna Baszler, Amanda Buckner, Julie Kedzie, and Hitomi Akano; somehow lost to Roxanne Modafferi)
-Cat Zingano (6-0; notable wins over Takayo Hashi, Carina Damm, and Barb Honchak)
-Rosi Sexton (12-2; notable wins over Sally Krumdiack, Roxanne Modafferi, and Carina Damm; only losses were to Zoila Gurgel and Gina Carano)
-Hitomi Akano (18-8; notable wins over Roxanne Modafferi, Hiroko Yamanaka, and Carina Damm; all but two losses were to heavier fighters including Cyborg and Miesha Tate, and the others were to Tara Larosa and Takayo Hashi)
-Carina Damm (17-6; notable wins over Jessica Aguilar, Miku Matsumoto, and Sophie Bagherdai; all losses have been to top fighters)
-Holly Holm (2-0 mega-prospect out of Jackson’s MMA; five time boxing world champion)
-Barb Honchak (5-1; notable wins over Roxanne Modafferi and Felice Herrig; only loss to Cat Zingano)
-Aisling Daly (13-2; notable wins over Jessica Eye and Maiju Kujala; only losses were to Sheila Gaff and Lisa Ward; I know she was in the Bellator tournament at 115 but I believe that was her only match at that weight)
-Sheila Gaff (9-4-1; recent wins over Hanna Sillen and Aisling Daly and three of her four losses were to people 20 lbs. heavier than her, with her other one coming in just her second fight)
-Sally Krumdiack (9-4; losses were all to good fighters and she has a good win over Nicdali Rivera-Calanoc)
-Zoila Gurgel (technically 11-1 (really 9-3); has legitimate wins over Rosi Sexton and Jessica Pene; only official loss was to Miesha Tate (in reality she also lost decisions to Megumi Fujii and Jessica Aguilar but whatever; W125 is her real home btw as her doctor has advised her not to ever cut down to 115 again; never been stopped)
-Marianna Kheyfets (4-0 prospect)
-Hanna Sillen (5-1; notable win over Maiju Kujala)
-Maiju Kujala (6-3; never been stopped and losses were to Miesha Tate, Aisling Daly, and very good prospect Hanna Sillen)
-Katja Kakaanpaa (5-0 prospect; good win over Karla Benitez)
-Reyna Cordoba (4-0 prospect)
-Angela Magana (10-4; holds wins over Jessica Aguilar and Lynn Alvarez)
-Sophie Bagherdai (5-1; notable win over Michelle Ould; only loss was to Carina Damm)
-Heather Clark (4-1 prospect; only loss was in her very first fight)
-Jessica Eye (5-1 prospect; only loss was to Aisling Daly)
I’m not even including people who are good but on bad losing streaks like Roxanne Modafferi or Takayo Hashi, or women who could and would come up in weight and kick ass if they could sign with SF at 125 like Megumi Fujii, Jessica Aguilar, and Carla Esparza. Or people who are better than their records might suggest like Michelle Ould (5-3).
The demise of the 145 lbs division in Strikeforce is not the end of female divisions. With luck, it may simply be the repositioning of promoting efforts to where they should be. With luck, Zuffa will be promoting the thickest female division in MMA within 2012.
The Future of the 145 lbs Female Division
So, basically what I am saying is that the only loser here is the 145 pound division and the women that can't cut lower than that right? Wrong. Very wrong. ONE FC, Asia's premier Mixed Martial Arts organization, has been very forward with their interest in female fights. A planned open-weight female tournament is in the works for 2012. If Strikeforce dumps the 145 pound division, as they most likely will, the ladies will have the choice to either cut to 135 or to go overseas to ONE FC. That's not a bad choice, as both seem much more fruitful than what Strikeforce has done with their 145ers up til now. They have only been in the business of promoting Cyborg fights. 145 lbers got little to no promotion, very few fights, and overall a pretty raw deal. Moving down to 135 lbs will open up more fights and opportunities, and moving over to ONE FC will also create more fights and opportunities. Either option is much more attractive for a 145 lbs female mixed martial artist that the state of the 145 lbs division in 2011.
So again, I must remind you all. Nothing is f@$!ed here, dude. Everything is going to be ok. So calm down, tweet Dana White, Joe Silva, Sean Shelby, and Scott Coker about the 125 lbs division, and enjoy some fights.
Feel free to join us over at Gal's Guide to MMA for more unique insights on not just the female divisions, but Mixed Martial Arts as a whole.