On this day in MMA history two years ago Strikeforce held it’s first event headlined by a women’s championship fight. Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg, which featured a bout between Gina Carano and Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos for the inaugural Strikeforce Women’s middleweight (145 pound) championship, took place on Saturday, August 15, 2009 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California.
Cyborg dominated Carano, who was being groomed to be the face of Strikeforce, defeating the Xtreme Couture fighter with just one second left in the opening round. After the bout Gina considered retiring and has not fought since the loss, opting instead to pursue an acting career. Her return bout was scheduled for June 18 of this year against Sarah D’Alelio, but Strikeforce announced the week of the fight that Carano had failed her pre-fight medicals. No details have been released as to the nature of what was wrong with her.
Alistair Overeem, who won the Strikeforce heavyweight title against Paul Buentello in 2007 was supposed to put the strap on the line for the first time against Fabricio Werdum on the card, but the bout was called off after “The Demolition Man” suffered a hand injury in training. Mike Kyle stepped in to face Werdum in a non-title bout.
Joe Riggs was originally scheduled to face Nick Diaz on the card, but pulled out of the bout three weeks prior to the event because of a drug reaction he had. He was replaced by Jay Hieron and the bout was upgraded to welterweight championship status, but Diaz missed a scheduled pre-fight drug screening and wasn’t granted a license by CSAC. As a result, he was replaced by Jesse “JT Money” Taylor and the bout was reduced to a non-title affair.
Then-Strikeforce lightweight champion Josh Thomson was also forced out of a unification bout with interim champion Gilbert Melendez due to injury and was replaced by Shooto, PRIDE and DREAM veteran Mitsuhiro Ishida.
The event, which peaked at 856,000 for the Carano vs. Santos bout, averaged 576,000 viewers on Showtime, more than doubling Strikeforce’s previous best — their June 6, 2009 Lawler vs. Shields event, which averaged 275,000 viewers. The event also set a new MMA ratings record for the specialty cable network previously set in February 16, 2008 by EliteXC: Street Certified which featured a main event heavyweight bout between Kimbo Slice and Tank Abbot. That show averaged 522,000 viewers.
The results and payroll for the event were as follows:
Cristiane Santos ($25,000 – includes $5,000 win bonus) def. Gina Carano ($125,000)
Gegard Mousasi ($25,000 – no win bonus) def. Renato Sobral ($75,000)
Gilbert Melendez ($50,000 – no win bonus) def Mitsuhiro Ishida ($30,000)
Fabricio Werdum ($50,000 – includes $25,000 win bonus) def. Mike Kyle ($14,000)
Jay Hieron ($55,000 – includes $30,000 win bonus) def. Jesse Taylor ($12,000)
Scott Lighty ($4,000 – no win bonus) def. Mike Cook ($2,500)
Justin Wilcox ($5,000 – includes $2,500 win bonus) def. David Douglas ($5,500)
James Terry ($6,000 – includes $3,000 win bonus) def. Zak Bucia ($2,000)
Alex Trevino ($3,500 – includes $1,500 win bonus) def. Isaiah Hill ($2,000)