Both tough in the ring and during interviews this 25-year-old Latina is currently ranked by the Unified Women’s MMA Rankings as the #1 female fighter of the world. Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos, born in Curibita, Brazil was discovered during one of her handball matches while still in high-school. She was invited to a trial Muay Tai class and according to her translator, “is where fell in love.”
After falling in love, she began to train at Chute Boxe gym and was introduced to mixed martial arts. Just four months after joining, Santos competed in her first MMA match and decided that “this was what she wanted to do.” Since then, Santos has won three World MMA Awards including the title of Strikeforce Women’s Middleweight Champion in 2009.
When Latina Voices was finally able conduct a phone interview with Santos, the first words out of her translator’s mouth were, “Let’s get started…we have ten interviews lined up and we can only give you 10 minutes.” Ding! The pressure was on. Using my speed against her excellent striking and aggressive nature, I threw as many questions as I could within my given time frame.
Q: Which fighter-man or woman- do you look up to?
A: Fedor Vladimirovich Emelianenko; he is a Russian Heavyweight mixed martial artist.
Q: At what age did you decide that fighting is what you wanted to do and why?
A: “She decided at the age of 19 that this is what he wanted to do,” her translator replied. ”Cristiane was always competitive and aggressive,” her translator explained. “Because fighting is an individual sport and she likes to rely on herself she felt that this was right for her.”
Q: You have chosen a non-traditional career especially within the Latin community, how did your family feel about this?
A: “Cristane did not tell her family that she started fighting until she started making money… her mother didn’t even believe that handball was something that her daughter could make any money in. She started supporting her when she realized that her daughter was made for fighting.”
With a near perfect record, her only loss against Erica Paes in 2005; Santos has proven that fighting is for her. Although she could not confirm when her next fight was during the time of our interview she did tell us that she plans to continue to be heavily involved and get more women into fighting.
Talks about Cristiane becoming a part of the Word Wrestling Entertainment have been rumored but nothing has been confirmed. Santos is still under contract with Strikeforce and is currently residing in California with husband Evangelista Santos who also happens to be an MMA fighter.
Natalia Avilez is a writer based in Chicago.