Although Gina Carano's pride took a hit Saturday night, her coach, Randy Couture, is already looking ahead.
Whenever she wants to get back in the gym, he'll be there.
Carano suffered the first slide of her career at Strikeforce "Carano vs. Cyborg," the first major mixed martial arts card to feature a female title fight as its headliner. Almost as soon as the fight was booked, she asked Couture to coach and corner her for the enormous challenge faced in Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos, a vicious product of Chute Boxe Academy in Curitiba, Brazil.
Santos' aggression won the day, but it was a back and forth battle that had the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., hopping with energy. The new champion will likely face Dutch fighter Marloes Coenen next.
Carano retreated to her dressing room after the bout and declined interviews. Couture found himself acting as a spokesperson to curious reporters wanting to know how she was dealing with the loss.
"She's fine, no injuries," said Couture. "A little scuffed up, but not bad."
Couture acknowledged that the gameplan he concocted for the fight went askew when Santos swarmed early on.
"The gameplan was to use her combinations and her footwork," said Couture of his strategy for Carano. "Stick and move and try to make Cyborg keep up with her and find her. Obviously, they ended up in a couple of firefights that she really didn't need to be in, but it's hard when somebody hits you, not to stand and try to hit them back. It's understandable."
Overall, though, Couture thought his student did as well as she could and the bout added to her mettle as a young fighter.
"I think she had some opportunities to win," he said. "It was an amazing five minutes. They made a lot of transitions, a lot of positions, and I think Gina caught Cyborg with some shots that got her attention, and obviously Gina got overwhelmed on a couple of occasions, but I think overall, she did some great things.
"This is a new experience for her, and it's an important one, and I expect she's going to come out the other side a stronger and better athlete for what she's going through right now."
Couture, who faces Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in less than two weeks at UFC 102 in Portland, Ore., anticipated Carano wouldn't sit on the bench for long.
"I think she takes a week or so to recover, let the dust settle, and get together and figure out what her next move is," he said. "Who her next fight's gonna be, when her next fight's gonna be, and when she's gonna get back into the training cycle."
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