It didn’t take Cristiane (Cyborg) Santos long to find a new home.
Shortly after being released from her Zuffa contract last week, the Brazilian signed a deal with the all-female promotion Invicta FC.
The move was not unexpected after the featherweight publically stated she did not wish to drop down to bantamweight, the only women’s division currently in the UFC.
Santos, the former Strikeforce 145-pound title-holder who at one point was considered the best pound-for-pound female fighter in the world, spent the last year serving a suspension for a positive drug test.
In her return, she will make her promotional debut against streaking submission ace Ediane (India) Gomes (10-2) at Invicta FC 5 on April 5 at the Ameristar Casino Hotel in Kansas City. The winner will take on Marloes Coenen for the vacant featherweight belt at Invicta’s next event.
“I am excited to finally get back in the cage and to have the opportunity to fight for Invicta Fighting Championships, which has shown a tremendous amount of commitment to furthering the growth of women’s MMA,” Santos said. “I will be ready on April 5 for Ediane and I plan to dominate my competition as I’ve done in the past.”
The 27-year-old Cyborg is universally recognized as the most devastating striker in women’s MMA. She boasts eight victories by knockout since making her pro debut in 2005.
“Cris’ incredible performances in front of national TV audiences over the last few years have helped put women’s MMA on the radar of the masses and paved the way for others to establish themselves in the sport,” Invicta FC President Shannon Knapp said.
Gomes’ original opponent, Port Moody B.C.’s Julia (The Jewel) Budd, will now face rising star Fiona Muxlow.
Invicta FC 5 will feature two title bouts. In the main event, reigning atomweight champion Jessica Penne will defend her belt against superstar Michelle (The Karate Hottie) Waterson, while in the co-main event Vanessa Porto will square off against Barb Honchak for the inaugural Invicta FC flyweight title.
The Cyborg signing means it could be a while before fans will see an anticipated super-fight between Santos and current UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey. The unbeaten Rousey has questioned Santos for not dropping down to her division to challenge her, suggesting her reasons were mere excuses and calling her “Cryborg.”
NOTES: Gomes was the first professional opponent for Rousey, who makes her Octagon debut Saturday at UFC 157 in Anaheim, Calif. Like all of Rousey’s six career opponents, Gomes lost by first-round armbar. … According to MMAjunkie.com, Invicta will be implementing random drug testing starting with this upcoming fifth show.