Cristiane Cyborg to Face Smack Girl Champ Hitomi Akano
Rival forces from different worlds will meet when women’s mixed martial arts (MMA) sensation, Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos (6-1) of Brazil collides with “Smack Girl” Champion Hitomi “Girlfight Monster” Akano (14-5) of Japan, in a 145-pound showdown, live on Saturday, April 11, part of Strikeforce’s Shamrock vs. Diaz stacked fight card, and airing live on SHOWTIME from the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.
“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, who will make her Strikeforce debut on April 11.
A member of the vaunted Brazilian fight Team Chute Boxe, Cyborg’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills are formidable. But it is her Muay Thai striking that is her passion and which has been most instrumental in her six career wins. She has not lost a fight since her debut in 2005.
“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.”
Last month, Cyborg joined her husband and Chute Boxe teammate, Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos, as a member of the Strikeforce roster. Santos is slated to make his Strikeforce debut later this year.
Akano, a submission specialist and former standout on Japan’s national judo team, has never been finished by an opponent in 19 career fights. She is looking to notch her fourth consecutive victory.
“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.”
During her run in Smack Girl, a Japan-based promotion dedicated exclusively to staging women’s MMA bouts, she ran to an unmatched 9-0 record before suffering her first loss by way of a narrow split decision on November 3, 2007. In addition to her world-class combat, Akano boasts songwriting as a talent. The 34-year-old typically uses “Between The Sky,” a song she composed, as her cage entrance music.
The “Shamrock vs. Diaz” event represents the dawn of a new age for Strikeforce as it will be the first one under its new television agreement with Showtime Networks Inc. The live telecast will feature up to five fights including a thrilling main event between three-time world champion and MMA legend Frank Shamrock (24-9-1) and fellow knockout artist Nick Diaz (18-7, 1 NC) contested at a catch weight of 179 pounds.
Strikeforce World Lightweight Champion Josh “The Punk” Thomson (16-2) and superstar “El Nino” Gilbert Melendez (14-2) will revisit their classic five-round battle when they collide in a rematch for the coveted 155-pound title.Middleweight (185-pound limit) sluggers Scott “Hands of Steel” Smith (16-5, 1 NC) and Benji “Razor” Radach (19-4) will also meet in a featured contest.
Strikeforce “Shamrock vs. Diaz” will air live on SHOWTIME (10 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast) on Saturday, April 11.
Tickets for “Shamrock vs. Diaz,” priced from $30, are available for purchase at the HP Pavilion box office (408-287-7070) as well as at all Ticketmaster locations (408-998-TIXS), Ticketmaster online (www.ticketmaster.com), and Strikeforce’s official website (www.strikeforce.com).