Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos Set to Make Invicta Fighting Championship Debut
Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos has signed with Invicta Fighting Championship.
Tito Ortiz, the fighter’s manager, announced the deal on Friday during a news conference broadcast live on AXS TV from the Punishment Training Center in Huntington Beach, Calif.
Santos will make her debut at Invicta FC 5 against Ediane Gomes on the main card of the April 5 event at Ameristar Casino Hotel in Kansas City, Mo. Gomez was expected to fight Julia Budd to name the promotion’s featherweight number one contender. Invicta revealed Budd will now meet Fiona MuxLow.
The deal between Santos and Invicta follows weeks of speculation over Santos’ future with the UFC. Zuffa, the UFC’s parent company, owned the rights to her contract following the closure of her previous promotional home, Strikeforce. Earlier this week, Ortiz expressed his client’s interest in being released from her contract due to negotiation disagreements.
According to reports by MMAjunkie.com, Ortiz said Santos wished to fight UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey in a 140-pound catchweight bout. Zuffa preferred to have her fight in Invicta first before entering the octagon to face Rousey. Now, that highly marketable fight in a shallow roster of female UFC fighters will fade away.
As recent as this past week, Santos had high hopes for her weight cut and the potential for a fight with Rousey.
"Without a doubt, if we make an agreement with the UFC, it wouldn't include an immediate title shot," Santos said earlier this week. "We would face someone else first. But nothing is set in stone.
"The only thing that's for sure is that I am willing to drop to 135. I've sought out a doctor that would assist me in that. I said I'm willing to drop to make this title fight happen. I think it would be a great fight that all the fans are waiting for."
However, those ambitions seem to have been met with a harsh reality. A letter was sent from the fighter’s camp to the UFC brass stating that risks to her health have left her unable to make the cut to 135 pounds. While being interviewed at Thursday’s UFC on FUEL TV 7 pre-fight media scrum, UFC President Dana White confirmed Santos' release from her contract and showed no sympathy for the former Strikeforce champion.
"We were working with her to get a deal," White said. "When you send a letter from your lawyer and your doctor saying, 'I will die if I try to make 135,' it's the goofiest thing. I've never seen anything like it in the fight business.”
White is content on moving forward without Santos and is staying focused on the female fighters remaining in his companies employ. The door to a UFC career for Santos, though, has not been completely shut.
"We have 10 of the best 135-pounders in the world as far as the women go," White said. "We're going to do this division, we're going to see how this fight (at UFC 157) goes down.
"'Cyborg' is pretty much irrelevant right now," he said. "Go out there and win some fights again, get your name back, stay clean, stay off steroids, get your career back on track and we'll talk. But for her to think that everyone should move around and jump through hoops for her is insane."
Santos’ last fight was 16-second TKO win over Hiroko Yamanaka in December of 2011. Results from a post-fight drug test showed her testing positive for stanozolol, a banned steroid. The positive testing resulted in her serving a one-year suspension and being stripped of her Strikeforce women’s featherweight title. She placed blame on a member of her training camp for giving her a supplement without her knowledge of the steroid’s presence in the substance. That excuse, though, was not enough to successfully appeal the consequences.
She will now test the waters of Invicta, home to many former Strikeforce women fighters like herself. She is now arguably the biggest name the young promotion has signed to its list of competitors.
"We are thrilled to welcome Cris 'Cyborg,' arguably the top pound-for-pound female fighter in the world, to our rapidly growing roster of world-class athletes," Invicta FC President Shannon Knapp explained. "Cris' incredible performances in front of national TV audiences over the last few years have helped put women's MMA on the radar of the masses and paved the way for others to establish themselves in the sport."
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