Josh Gross
Sunday August 16th, 2009

12:22 a.m.: Santos, victor, leaves the cage on the shoulders of her husband. They're walking a slow loop, a bit of a victory lap though that hardly appears to be the intention. Moving past press row, she's greeted with high fives from fans who were probably booing her moments earlier. Someone lifts a small girl to Cyborg's eye level. She responds with kiss on the cheek.

12:13 a.m.: Official time of the stoppage: 4:59 of round one.

12:12 a.m.: The pair hug in the center, exchanging smiles and, believe it or not, pleasantries. as an audience enamored with the Las Vegans applauds in appreciation. Striking stats: Cyborg 36 of 64; Carano 24 of 47. This was a war for as long as it lasted, and it won't be the final time they meet. Hopefully Cyborg, an afterthought in much of the pre-event buildup, gets her due. She more than deserves it.

12:09 a.m.: Monster right hands from Cyborg. Bell sounds just as Rosenthal dives in. Some confusion over whether that's the end of the fight or not, but it is. A wild first round. Carano is on her feet, her face bruised. But she's fine. Rosenthal stood over the pair as Cyborg unloaded right hand after right hand. It was a tough call, but the right one considering Carano was covering and taking shots, somewhere near 10. By the look of Carano's face right after the stoppage, there shouldn't be any debate.

12:06 a.m.: Grappling in the clinch. Missed elbow from Carano. Sixty seconds left on the round and Cyborg scores a takedown into the half-guard. A keylock for the Brazilian is defended well, bringing a loud cheer. 12:05 a.m.: Miday through a manic opening round, the crowd is still cheering for Carano, who's power hasn't stunted Cyborg's momentum. We're into minute four. In other fights they'd be on their stools, but not tonight.

12:04 a.m.: For the first time they're slow in the clinch. Cybrob looking for a knee. They separate. Good jab from Carano. Some distance between the pair, two minutes down.

12:02 a.m.: Cyorg comes out slugging. Carano covers and manages to bet the fight on the floor. Exchanging leg locks, crowd going wild. Cyborg on top now, several shots to Carano's head. Back to the feet. Slugging away from both. Carano covers. A takedown from Gina, the crowd is wild now.

12:01 a.m.: Lights dim. A clap of simulated thunder careens its way around the building. Flashes pop as Jimmy Lennon Jr. tells the people where we are tonight. He turns his attention to introducing Cyborg, who is aware now that ticketholders aren't here to cheer for her. Huge applause for her. Referee Josh Rosenthal have been given control of the first major women's title fight in MMA history. Everyone standing, cheering "Gina, Gina ..." Round 1 begins.

11:59 p.m.: Carano, wearing cornrows, wears the same focused stare as Cyborg. A smattering of Vaseline on her face, instructions from ringside officials, and she enters the cage to loud applause. There's no doubt fans came to HP Pavilion tonight for this fight.

11:56 p.m.: Cyborg comes out kicking her way to the cage. She is clearly on the outs with most of the 13,524 fans in attendance. Some applause as she enters the fighting space, but this building belongs to Carano. Just the shot of her on video screens brings a cheer from the capacity crowd.

11:54 p.m.: Zero to 60, welcome to America, Gegard Mousasi. The 24-year-old from Holland pasted Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Renato "Babalu" Sobral, 33, in one minute flat, stopping the veteran fighter cold with punches from the top. Extremely impressive U.S. debut for the hot prospect, now 29-2-1. When my rankings appear next week on, expect Mousasi, a former top five middleweight before moving up in weight this year, to be included among the 10 best at 205 pounds.

11:32 p.m.: Gilbert Melendez avenged the first loss of his career and captured Strikeforce's interim lightweight title in the process with a third-round stoppage of Japan's Mitsuhiro Ishida. Their first contest two years ago outside Tokyo was a wrestling match, with the energy-rich Ishida handing Melendez his first loss by decision. Tonight -- Ishida (18-6-1) in the cage as a late replacement for Strikeforce champ Josh Thomson -- the Japanese fighter couldn't match Melendez, who shut down several takedowns and scored a few of his own. The end came with Melendez (16-2) attacking from Ishida's back pounding right hands to the side of the Japanese fighter's head.

11 p.m.: On weight and in shape, all that remains for Gina Carano and Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos is to mix it up. That happens tonight at the HP Pavilion when the pair compete in San Jose, Calif., for Strikeforce's new 145-pound women's title. Both athletes were fit and comfortable on the scale Friday -- Carano (7-0) lean and hydrated; Cyborg (7-1) sucked up, but ripped and ready.

For a breakdown of the fight -- the first time a major mixed martial arts card is being headlined by women -- check out my preview.

(Cliff notes version: Expect a war. Cyborg, 24, is one of the most aggressive fighters on the planet. Carano, 27, seems prepared and stout enough to answer the call. Stand-up games are comparable and the preferred method of fighting for each. Cyborg could have an edge on the floor, but I think it's negligible.)

I'm calling Carano -- almost a 2-1 underdog -- because this really feels like a 50/50 fight.

GALLERY: Best shots from Strikeforce

GROSS: Santos' stunner may bode well for women's MMA

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