With talks regarding a potential superfight between Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos and Gina Carano on hold while Strikeforce continues its attempts to ink Carano to a new contract, the promotion has moved forward by scheduling Santos to compete on its April 11 event in San Jose in a featherweight (145 pound) fight vs. Hitomi Akano.
The San Jose-based fight company made the matchup official via a press release earlier this afternoon. According to Strikeforce officials, the bout will be three rounds of three minutes. It has not been determined whether the fight will be a part of Showtime’s telecast of the event.
Santos, 6-1, will be making her Strikeforce debut after having been idle following her unanimous decision victory over former pro wrestler Yoko Takahashi during EliteXC’s Oct. 4 “Heat” event in South Florida.
While fans will have to wait a little longer to see the Cyborg vs. Carano dream fight, Santos will have her hands full against a fighter widely regarded as a top ten competitor in the super bantamweight (135 pounds) division.
“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,” said the 23-year-old Cyborg is quoted as saying in the release.
Akano comes from a judo background, which will offer quite the contrast to Cybrog’s Chute Boxe-brand of Muay Thai and jiu-jitsu.
“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,” Akano is quoted as saying. “Regardless of where I fight, I believe in myself and my ability to fight my own game.”
Akano, 14-5, will also be making her Strikeforce debut and will be fighting on U.S. soil for just the second time in her career. A veteran of the now-defunct Japan-based Smackgirl promotion, Akano has won her last three fights and holds notable victories in her career of Megumi Yabushita, Debi Purcell, Molly Helsel, and Keiko “Tama Chan” Tamai.
All five of Akano’s career defeats have come against world class opponents such as Yabushita, Tara LaRosa, Vanessa Porto, Amanda Buckner, and Takayo Hashi.
In addition to Santos vs. Akano, Strikeforce’s April 11 event at the HP Pavilion will be headlined by a 179 pound catchweight bout between former Strikeforce middleweight champion Frank Shamrock and UFC and EliteXC veteran Nick Diaz.
Other bouts confirmed for the April 11 show include Josh Thomson defending his Strikeforce lightweight title vs. former champion Gilbert Melendez, a middleweight matchup between Scott Smith and Benji Radach, and a welterweight bout featuring former EliteXC 170 pound kingin Jake Shields and ex-UFC veteran Joe Riggs.