Cage Potato is reporting that Strikeforce women's middleweight champion Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos is officially a free agent after she and Strikeforce could not come to terms on a new contract.
A source we spoke to today received confirmation from Cyborg's management that Zuffa's exclusive negotiation period with the 10-1 Curitiba, Brazil fighter ended yesterday and that the parent company of Strikeforce and the UFC failed to come to terms with the Strikeforce women's middleweight champ before she became a free agent at the stroke of midnight.
According to Santos' former manager Ken Pavia who helped negotiate the deal that was fulfilled with her last fight with Jan Finney on June 26, 2010, there was a champion's clause in her contract, which he said he thought would extend her deal. But according to another we spoke to who is close to the situation, the clause had a one-year expiration date and when Strikeforce failed to re-sign her or offer her a fight by June 26, they waived their right to exercise the option.
Cyborg has sat out for more than a year now ever since defending her title in a dominant performance over Jan Finney at "Strikeforce/M-1 Global: Fedor vs. Werdum" last June. Cyborg is the first and only Strikeforce middleweight champion after defeating Gina Carano for the new belt at "Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg" in August 2009. In addition to her defense against Finney, Cyborg also defended the title against current Strikeforce women's welterweight champion Marloes Coenen in January 2010.
This brings into question not only the status of Strikeforce's women's middleweight title but Strikeforce's women's division as a whole. There are very few contenders for the title. Gina Carano was supposed to return to action earlier this month but an undisclosed medical condition kept her from fighting and her status going forward is unknown. This leaves the title in serious jeopardy and it would not be shocking to see it just fade away.