Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos steam rolled through Marloes Coenen like an 18 wheeler enroute to a 3rd round TKO victory, and her first successful defense of the Strikeforce Women’s Championship on Saturday night.
Expectations were high for both the Santos and Coenen camps heading into Saturday night’s title fight in Sunrise, Florida, as Strikeforce featured the ladies in the co-main event from the BankAtlantic Center. Marloes Coenen, the submission grappling and kickboxing standout from the Netherlands, was to be Cris Santos’ toughest test to date. Cris Santos, the Chute Boxe Academy slugger / Muay Thai head-hunter from Brazil, was looking to continue her 8 fight winning streak and further cement her place as the women’s # 1 fighter at 145 pounds.
The first round started off as everyone who has ever viewed a Santos fight thought it would. An incredible pace and power were on display from the opening bell, as Coenen started off with a right kick to the body, while Santos moved forward and landed a right hand punch to the dome of Marloes. The crowd in Florida rose to their feet as Santos clinched up with her opponent, and landed several knees to the body of Coenen. Marloes, however, was not going to just sit back and get overwhelmed by the Champion, as she threw a snapping right hand punch to Santos’ face, which she took without hesitation. Santos then used the opportunity to take Coenen down to the ground, and postured up out of the Marloes’ guard to land numerous right hand strikes to her opponent’s face. Coenen again attempted to control Santos by locking down the “Cyborg,” but was unsuccessful as Santos stood up and out of her guard to drop a few more right hand punches. Coenen then used this separation to land a nice upkick, which Santos took, and then smiled at her opponent. Santos did step out of the guard, and referee Jorge Ortiz stepped between the two ladies to restart the fight on the feet. Immediately both women swung for the fences with right hands, although Santos seemed to land the more significant punch. Both women continued the exchanges, with aggressive intent, although the actual contact was glancing. “Cyborg” ended the round by landing a spinning back kick as the horn sounded.
At the start of the second round, Marloes Coenen had to know that she lost the first stanza, and she opened up with a nice left hand jab that caught Cristiane’s face, although Santos fired back with a vicious right / left / right hand combination which sent Coenen scooting to the ground. Marloes then upkicked Santos again, which seemed to only irritate the Champion. “Cyborg” got inside the guard, and stacked the challenger up to land repeated right and left hand punches to the cranium. Santos showed power, and strength, as she chunked Coenen back several feet. Santos then dropped a right hand, however Coenen seemed to handle this well, as her ground defense from the guard was solid. The fast pace did not slow down, and Cris wisely stepped back to force the standup after failing to land anything worthwhile on the ground. As the match restarted, Coenen threw a lunging right, which did not land, although the two ladies continued to exchange, with Santos getting the best of it. Another punching combo from Santos caused Marloes to switch levels and attempt a takedown, which was stuffed, and the “Cyborg” then took her opponent down again. A pattern started to appear, as Santos landed some ground and pound strikes, while Coenen threw her legs up in an effort to get some sort of a submission going. Santos powered out and dropped more right hands, as well as some meaningful body strikes to end the second frame. Upon returning to her corner, Coenen’s left eye showed signs of swelling and bruising, most likely from the regular dose of right hand punches from Santos.
The third round kicked off with a wonderful grappling exchange, as Coenen attempted a takedown, which Santos defended, but shortly after the Champ was driven backwards into the cage by the re-energized challenger. Cris Santos, who looked calm with her back against the cage, was able to separate from the clinch and land yet another right / left / right combo. Coenen, sensing that she needed to mount some sort of offense, went for an ill-advised takedown which saw Santos end up on top again. It was at this moment that Cris “Cyborg” Santos seemed to smell the blood in the water, and she quickly landed between 3 and 5 right hand punches to the body and mid-section of Coenen. Santos postured up in her opponent’s guard, and landed numerous right hand shots to Coenen’s head, although Marloes spun out after the strikes, and nicely tripped a standing Santos with a right kick to escape. Coenen threw her best punch of the night, a right hand haymaker that found it’s mark, but Santos just took it and charged forward. Marloes went for another takedown, probably to control the pace, but unfortunately for her, the attempt was stuffed by Santos and the Champion ended up on top again. Santos then ended the fight with several solid right hand strikes to the head and body of her grounded opponent, and Coenen was not able to intelligently defend herself, as Jorge Ortiz called a halt to the bout at 3:40 of the 3rd round. “Cyborg” then stood up only to flop face first into the mat to celebrate her first defense of the Strikeforce Women’s Championship.
All in all, Cris “Cyborg” Santos showed that she is the strongest and most ferocious female fighter on the planet with a dominating victory over her toughest test in Marloes Coenen. Santos could face Erin Toughill next, although no official announcement has been made. The fans of female MMA certainly must make note of their first Champion, who leads one to believe that a lengthy title run is in her future.
Our Photographer on site Tom Hill gave us some great pictures.