(Photo via MMAWeekly)
By Matt Saccaro
There are points in MMA history that if one punch is ducked, one kick is thrown, one submission is secured, the entire fate of the sport changes.
Numerous fights hold the distinction of being important enough that history hung in the balance while the combatants tried to incapacitate one another, but one that doesn’t get much attention in the discussion of Griffin/Bonnar-level important fights is Gina Carano vs. Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos (or now Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino. Whatever, we’re just gonna call her Cyborg). Yeah, most people recognize its importance as the first BIG fight in WMMA history, but their appreciation for it doesn’t extend past that. And, historically, it shouldn’t. The fight was a big deal but it lead to nothing good. It sent the most recognized fighter in WMMA away from the sport forever. Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate, and others had to pick up the mantle that Gina Carano ran away from.
But, for a moment, let us pretend that the result of Carano vs. Cyborg was reversed. That’s what the second installment of CagePotato’s Alternate History series is based on: The fallout of Gina Carano hypothetically defeating Cyborg in Strikeforce.
What Would’ve Happened if Gina Carano Defeated Cyborg in 2009?
Before we get into counterfactuals, let’s briefly discuss what happened historically.
EliteXC (gee it fields weird to type that name again) had a burgeoning women’s division, no doubt to say “Hey, we have something the UFC doesn’t” and to draw attention away from the fact that their male roster wasn’t as loaded as the UFC’s. Not an issue though, because the women were awesome. Two specific ones were more awesome than most: Carano and Cyborg.
Carano was the most marketable female fighter at the time because she’s fucking gorgeous — and not just “fighter” hot, but seriously attractive. She could fight pretty damn well, too. Pushing Carano was therefore a no-brainer.
Cyborg isn’t conventionally attractive but she’s gifted at inflicting violence. Legitimate talent combined with an affinity for smashing fighters in a crowd-pleasing way is easy to promote.