Collateral Damage: How Cyborg’s suspension will affect WMMA

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    Yesterday, news broke that Cris “Cyborg” Santos, the Strikeforce Women’s 145 lb. Champion, had failed a drug test for the performance enhancer stanozolol. Following her impressive sixteen-second victory over Hiroko Yamanaka on December 17, 2011, the failed test has resulted in a suspension, a $2500 fine, and most importantly, the stripping of her Women’s Championship belt by UFC President Dana White. This event has powerful ramifications for the entire landscape of women’s MMA, and it will remain to be seen if the Women’s arena of Mixed Martial Arts can recover from this shocking blow.

    With MMA as a whole has been flourishing as of late, it seems that the Women’s side of the game has been suffering since the exit of popular former Strikeforce champion Gina Carano. With few popular fighters available as opposed to many noticeable male fighters, this was simply a black eye that the sport of WMMA could not afford. Cyborg was on the brink of being the face of WMMA, with an almost invincible aura brought on by her fast, vicious, and seemingly effortless wins in Strikeforce’s hexagon. Additionally, Dana White has publicly discussed his lack of enthusiasm for a women’s division within the UFC. His disdain for the use of steroids and other PEDs is also well-known, evident by his release of Nathan Marquardt just last year for a similar offense. The recent events would suggest that we will not likely see women fighting in the UFC for quite some time, if ever.

    While it is never good when a champion is stripped of their belt due to PED use, this instance may in fact provide some gateways for WMMA to actually become more popular in the next couple of years. For example, the aforementioned Gina Carano has been absent from fighting for some 2-and-a-half years, having lost her belt in a TKO loss to Cyborg on August 15, 2009. This event was the first time a WMMA headlined a major card, and Carano’s presence was, without a doubt, a major driving force behind this. Perhaps a return by Gina Carano will open up the WMMA division of Strikeforce, and lead to a vast increase in popularity when it’s most famous face is once again gracing the fight posters. Carano has amassed great popularity, and is only set to become more recognizable with the media exposure she gains. Also, there may be room for such talented up-and-comers such as the Strikeforce 135 lb. Champion Miesha Tate and her rumored next opponent, submission whiz and judo practitioner Ronda Rousey. Marloes Coenen is always a game fighter as well who deserve recognition for her submission talents and heart. It seemed that talk of Cyborg dominated all discussion of WMMA in recent months, and while she was a dominant champion, there are other female fighters who deserve their recognition. Perhaps the focus of WMMA will shift to the efforts of these talented women.

    Another highly valid point that arises from Cyborg’s suspension is the discussion of PED use in all of MMA. While we continue to see, albeit intermittently, highly ranked fighters such as Chael Sonnen, Nate Marquardt, Thiago Silva, and now Cristiane Santos suspended for the use of PEDs, the sport of MMA may never reach its lofty potential. While the popularity of Mixed Martial Arts is growing by leaps and bounds, it is still only on the brink of becoming mainstream, and additional instances of fighters using steroids could ultimately keep it from reaching the top of the sports world. We have all seen the horrible consequences that steroids and all PEDs have had on mainstream sports such baseball, so let’s hope that MMA is not tarnished in a similar way. The use of performance-enhancing drugs will continue to cast unneeded doubt upon the sport of MMA until the evidence of their use is curtailed.  

    So, LowKick’ers, what do you think the lasting effects of Cyborg’s failed drug test will be on WMMA? How about MMA as a whole? Can WMMA survive this blow and shift focus to the talented female fighters that are working to become recognized? Will steroid use continue to be a downfall of the fight game, or will the harsh consequences that we have seen leveled upon a few fighters make an actual change for the better?    

    Further Reading: Cyborg Suspended, stripped of Strikforce title

    • Cyborg?!? On steroids?!?. . . say it ain’t so. . . I . . . just. . . didn’t. . . see. . . it. . . COMING!!!!

      POR QUE, MADRE DE DIOS?!? POR QUE?

      Seriously, though, if WMMA survives this opens up either A) Gina’s triumphant return or B) for Yamanaka to get another shot against someone else in which case the woman with the single greatest backstory on how she became a fighter to win the belt. . . If it still exists later.

      Seriously, how can you not root for a woman who was a dominatrix and trained MMA for cardio purposes for her line of work, then decided to do MMA instead of domination?

      Greatest. Backstory. Ever. (If it’s true, that is, which I don’t know.)

    • Gina wont return, and Cyborg was never on the brink of being the face of WMMA, due to her dominance, and I hate to say it her looks. Gina sold because of her looks, Rousey is jumping Kauffmann and many other because of how she looks. I hate to say that cause im not sexist, but its the truth. The 145 WMMA div cant be relevant right now, it took SF 18 months to find Cyborg a fight, and the one the found was a total mismatch, if their is a future in WMMA its at 135, or I think they should consolidate the 135, and the 145, into a 140 lb. division.

    • Unfortunately, Cyborg is the most famous face in WMMA right now, but not for the right reasons. Yes, looks will always be a strong motivating factor for popularity in WMMA. This seems unavoidable. One division may work, it seems like two was becoming a stretch for SF.

    • I respect how hard these women work and their athleticism. But I don’t care about women’s MMA and don’t ever want to see it in the UFC. Hopefully the UFC will keep a lid on the steroid testing lik the NFL does.

    • To put this into perspective let me ask a question:

      If Cyborg was fighting in the UFC men’s FW division–could she beat any fighter on the roster?

      Women’s MMA is not an exhibition of the best fighters in MMA, but only the best female fighters. MMA fans are asked to accept a lower level of professional fighting because the participants are women. Only if they are pretty fighters will they garner any interest.

    • @codemaster.
      Oh, you are absolutely right.

      Look, I WANT to like WMMA because I’d like to see everyone have a shot at fighting and I’d like to see it be relevant, but the fact is, women’s MMA is one of the ugliest things in sports. Just like the WNBA. I’m not sexist, but that’s my observation on the issue.

      I’ll even do you one better: I believe if they put Cyborg in there with just about any relevant FLYWEIGHT in the world, she’d get owned. That size won’t help her one bit when the athleticism, speed, technique, etc. she loses compared to the guys.

      No offense because I want women to be on equal footing, and I’d love to see a relevant WMMA division, but I don’t think it’s gonna happen. However, I pay some attention all the same and try to make the best of it, since it’s here for now and probably won’t be, soon.

      Also for the record, I’d like to see all the divisions consolidated too, since at least that way you can get the best female MMA fighter out of it.

    • This was the best thing that could have happened for womens mma in the long run imo, now we don’t have a cheating champion that because she cheats because unbeatable for the other women. Will be really great to see actual women fight in mma now and not just this steroid freak win because she turned herself into a man.

    • @codemaster

      Of course WMMA is for women only. Comparing female to male fighters is unfair. That is like, to some extent, pitching lightweights against light heavyweights and claiming lightweights are lower level fighters. Light heavyweights are physically stronger than lightweights, and men are physically stronger than women, that’s why they have their own divisions.

      There are good women fighters. Looks aside, some of my favorite are Marloes Coenen and Gina Carano. Unfortunately, Gina is going the way of Cung Le, she might fight for a large paycheck.

    • After Cyborg’s suspension, I wanna see Cyborg vs Aldo.

    • Lol wtf? You createdan account and signed in here by accident?

      Uhh anyways, cyborgs suspension is a good thing.No longer will viewers be thinking “That girl just isn’t manly enough to beat cyborg”

    • Ok now I am really confused, you insulted me so that you could then agree with what I said?

    • The post before yours was deleted.

    • People who lost to this person should really have their losses erased…ESPECIALLY since it’s womens MMA and they were basically trying to fight a man.

      It’s stupid to tarnish a fighters record because they tried to do something noone should be expected to do. No wonder Gina left, why bother trying to compete with someone who’s CLEARLY cheating?

    • … since she is part fake. The impact will be minimal going forward. Going backward is another story.

      We’ll never know how good or bad she would’ve been without the drugs. So we’ll never know if all those women she beat were better fighters than her. There is a very real chance many would’ve won without her drug induced beast mode advantage. I assume she’s been doing the PEDs for a long time. I *could* be wrong, but it is a pretty safe assumption.

      I’m so glad she got caught. I knew deep down she was a ‘roider. I hated watching her beat up on women. Whenever an athlete gets popped for PEDs they should be professionally banned from the sport for life and have all their past fights changed to No Contests. The ladies she knocked out cold and beat the living hell out of signed up to fight a NORMAL person who agreed to NOT get into beast mode by using drugs. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say she should be arrested and charged for fraud and reckless endangerment for ‘roiding up before this last fight.