It had been 16 months since Cristiane Santos had stepped inside a Strikeforce cage. 16 months had passed since "Cyborg" last defended her title, a belt she won by shellacking Gina Carano back in 2009. That defense was against Jan Finney who was handed one of the worst beatings I've ever seen in the sport. Nearly eight minutes of unadulterated brutality earned Santos her second title defense. But that was 16 months ago and last night, she returned to defend her 145-pound belt a third time.
16 seconds later, she was gone again.
It only took "Cyborg" that long to dispatch of her opponent Hiroko Yamanaka, an embarrassingly overmatched fighter from Japan. Despite winning a title for the Smackgirl promotion and going undefeated in Jewels, Yamanaka folded like an accordion once she felt the brute strength Santos has in her possession.
That's the state of the women's 145-pound division in mixed martial arts (MMA). It lacks depth and doesn't look to be getting an infusion of talent any time soon. Yamanaka was ranked as the second best in the weight class and she was trounced in less time than it takes to heat up hot cocoa.
Accusations of shallowness have thrown around in regards to weight classes before -- heavyweight being the most notable case -- but they all pale in comparison to the superficiality of women's featherweight division. When every fighter of note -- Ronda Rousey and Alexis Davis -- aside from Santos is cutting down to 135-pounds, it leaves the champ as the Queen of a barren kingdom.
"Cyborg" must drop to bantamweight.
Santos has effectively cleared out featherweight. Not that it was any tall order to begin with but "Cyborg" has completely decimated each and every challenger put in front of her from Carano to Yamanaka. There simply aren't any intriguing match-ups left for the Brazilian.
And beyond anything, people not wanting to watch you compete is the worst thing that could happen to a fighter. Santos seems dangerously close to that level. Last night's contest -- and I use the term loosely -- wasn't enjoyable, it wasn't impressive; it was a complete waste of time.
To stay relevant in the sport, Santos needs to drop down to 135 pounds to take on the likes of Miesha Tate and Sarah Kaufman. While that weight class still has some way to go in terms of depth, it is leagues ahead of featherweight.
Santos has stated that she is already considering dropping down. That's a move that will only help prolong her career. Staying at her current weight class presents an anemic set of challenges but dropping down opens her up to take on an entire different roster to take on.
Last night's bout with "Cat's Eyes" wasn't fun in the slightest. It was the latest -- and should be the last -- nail in women's featherweight coffin. The talent simply isn't there to support the division despite how dominant a champion appears to be. Watching a fighter demolish over-matched opposition gets old very quickly and last night's women's bout might as well have joind the AARP and moved to a retirement home.
Santos need to drop to remain relevant, plain and simple.