(Just another day at the office for Jan Finney. The terrifying, potentially life-threatening office. PicProps: Strikeforce)
When staring down the barrel of your own imminent demise, there are a couple of different ways you can play it. You can dig your heels in and fight every step of the way as the guards physically drag you out of your cell and down the hall to the execution chamber, or you can handle things a little more like Gary Gilmore: Grinning into the scowling faces of the poor bastards on the firing squad and shouting, “Let’s do it!”
Jan Finney, to her credit, seems to be opting for the latter approach.
Finney doesn’t appear the least bit bothered by the fact she’s jumping up in weight to take on the most dominant female fighter on the planet, that the oddsmakers see her as a near-historic underdog or that Strikeforce says she’ll likely be fired if she doesn’t have a “good showing” against Cris “Cyborg” Santos tonight. In fact, Finney – whose nickname, by comparison, is “Cuddles” – thinks it’s hilarious.
"I think it’s funny," Finney told MMA Fighting this week on the topic of being an 11-1 dog to the 145-pound champion. "I use that stuff as motivation. If anything, I think it can kind of play games with Cris’ head. She might take me too lightly."
What exactly is “too lightly” we wonder, when facing a fighter whose record just crested the .500 mark on her last victory, a split decision over Adrienna Jenkins at an event called Freestyle Cage Fighting 40 held at FireLake Casino in Shawnee, Okla? What’s “too lightly” for a champion about to take on an opponent who Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker admits his matchmakers found by watching YouTube? A fighter who’s not even ranked in the Top 10 in her own weight class (135-pounds) let alone the heavier weight that Cyborg has ruled with a heretofore unequaled ferocity.
Too lightly? I’d say as long as Cyborg doesn’t spend the seven or eight hours leading up to the fight doing shooters of Cazadores at the bar across the street from the HP Pavillion, she’s probably not taking Finney too lightly.
And wait, head games? Hey Jan, are you sure we’re talking about the same Cris Santos here?
"She’s just a person, you know?” Finney continued. “People forget, this is a sport, but we’re also entertainers. I think she’s using a persona. Especially with her opponents, she likes to adopt that and kind of try to get in their heads. I think it’s actually kind of funny."
Yeah, no, we’re definitely talking about two different people. The Cris Santos we mean has never shown any evidence of being “just a person.” Hence, you know, the nickname? From bell to bell, the Cris Cyborg we know has proven to be a remorseless killing machine who has deposited a trail of broken, formerly attractive bodies in her wake. To us, there’s nothing even remotely funny about Cyborg. Finney, however, doesn’t see what the big deal is. She’s not even worried about it.
"I think the biggest problem with nerves for me is when I have to talk," she said. "Interviews, stuff like this. I’m deathly afraid of when I have to talk in front of a bunch of people, but I guess it gets easier the more you do it. I feel like once I step into the cage, that nervousness kind of goes away. I’m usually scared of tripping or falling on my way to the cage, but in the fight I think I’ll be fine."
I actually agree with the first part of this statement, talking does seem to be a problem for Jan Finney. In fact, her rhetorical strategy is so flawed here that I don’t know whether to feel sorry for her or whether I just have to respect it. On the bright side, if things go the way we all expect them to go tonight, talking might not be such a problem for her, like, ever again.