Strikeforce has announced today that former EliteXC female powerhouse Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos (6-1) will collide with Smack Girl Champion Hitomi "Girlfight Monster" Akano (14-5) on the main card of the new-look Strikeforce debut show set for April 11 in San Jose, California.
While it may not be the superfight against Gina Carano that MMA fans have been clamoring for, Akano is by all means a suitable replacement.
Cyborg -- the wife of former Pride FC fighter Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos -- burst onto the scene in May of 2008 with a dominating performance against Shayna Baszler in her debut under the Elite XC banner. Like her husband, she’s a product of the Brazilian Chute Boxe Academy, a style that’s evident as soon as she steps foot in the cage.
Her most recent fight was in October 2007 on the Elite XC: "Heat" card. She out-pointed Yoko Takahashi on the judges scorecards for a unanimous decision. It was a hard fought battle, but another impressive win for Santos nonetheless.
Santos was scheduled to make an appearance at XMMA 7 against Dutch submissions artist Marloes Coenen until a late injury forced her off the February 27 card.
"I know Hitomi Akano is the best Japanese female fighter today, but I am prepared for any situation and will always be looking for the knockout. My coaches and I will study the style of Akano. My master Rafael Cordeiro is one who has helped me grow up in MMA. He is the best coach in the world."
Akano is a submission specialist and former standout on Japan’s national judo team and has yet to be finished in 19 career fights. The Japanese import is riding a three fight win streak and has ended 11 of her 14 victories by way of tapout.
From Girlfight Monster:
"I am really looking forward to this fight because, compared to mine, Cyborg has got almost a completely opposite style. She is a striker and I am a grappler," said Akano, whose start on April 11 will be her second in the United States. "Regardless of where I fight, I believe in myself and my ability to fight my own game."
The April 11 Strikeforce card will feature Nick Diaz and Frank Shamrock facing off in the evening’s main event at a catchweight of 179 pounds. Also scheduled to do battle is Scott Smith as he faces Benji Radach and Joe Riggs taking on former Elite XC Welterweight Champion Jake Shields.