Cristiane Santos finally found a mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion that could find her fights in the featherweight division, Invicta FC, an all-female fight organization that inked her to a deal and then immediately booked her in a main event to face Ediane Gomes April 5, 2013.
The signing came on the heels of her release from Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), which was requested by her manager, Tito Ortiz, after a catchweight fight against current UFC women's Bantamweight champion, Ronda Rousey, was ruled out.
Good for Invicta, the UFC and "Cyborg," right?
Well, according to UFC President Dana White, it could have been a lot sweeter for all three parties had Team Santos been a bit more patient. The Las Vegas fight boss recently revealed that a deal was in the works between the UFC and Invicta to have Santos compete for the all-women's MMA fight promotion under a Zuffa contract in which White and Co. would foot the bill.
If accurate, it sounds rather generous, considering UFC has been historically against sharing its talent.
The deal would have allowed Santos to remain under contract with the UFC while fighting at 145 pounds for Invicta, while Zuffa officials figured out a way to make a fight between "Rowdy" and "Cyborg" happen. But, for reasons only known to Ortiz's management team, Santos opted out of the UFC contract and proceeded to sign with Invicta on her own terms.
White spilled the beans at the UFC on FUEL TV 7 post-fight press conference scrum:
"We were going to sign her to a contract and then we were going to have her fight in Invicta, which means we'd pay all the bills for her to fight in Invicta. She'd be under a UFC contract with all the perks and benefits of being a UFC fighter, but would fight in Invicta. So instead of doing that, they chose to not do that and fight in Invicta. If you can make logic out of that whole fucking situation, you're a better man than I. We don't have a 145-pound division, so we're going back and forth with these guys in the deal. So I called Shannon Knapp, who owns Invicta, and said, 'Listen, if I do this deal with Cyborg, can you give her fights over there? I'll pay the bills, and you put on some fights over there until I can figure out how this whole thing is going to go down?' She said, 'Absolutely, no problem, we'd love to do it.' The next thing I know, Tito wants out of the contract and they sign with her."
The move on Team "Cyborg" is very puzzling to say the least if this is indeed how it all went down.
Not only did it prevent Invicta from saving money by allowing the deep pockets of Zuffa to foot the bill, but the deal is likely missing many (if not all) of the "perks" that come with a UFC contract (i.e. health insurance). In addition, the decision could have dashed whatever few opportunities remained to make the much-desired fight between Santos and Rousey anytime soon.
Then again, perception may not be reality.