"Cyborg" Santos’ manager, former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz, said Friday that his client has requested her release from UFC.
“Right now we’re actually waiting for UFC to release her,” Ortiz said during an appearance on "Inside MMA."
“[UFC] gave an offer; I went to Cyborg and she didn’t want to do it, so we asked for her release. Since they’re not having a 145-pound weight class, what else can they do?”
Ortiz claims that UFC will release Santos, but the promotion has yet to publicly reveal its decision on the matter. During her time as Strikeforce featherweight champion, Santos was regarded as the world’s best female mixed martial artist. Her bout with fan favorite Gina Carano in August 2009 for the inaugural Strikeforce women's featherweight title was the most anticipated fight in women’s mixed martial arts history. Santos defeated Carano by first-round TKO.
She would successfully defend the 145-pound belt three times, but after her final defense against Hiroko Yamanaka on Dec. 17, 2011, Santos tested positive for a banned substance. Santos, who beat Yamanaka by first-round TKO, was suspended by the California State Athletic Commission for one year.
While Santos was sidelined, Rousey was supplanting her as the best female fighter on the planet. Strikeforce was also in the process of going out of business.
After Strikeforce’s final event on Jan. 12, all of its fighter contracts were picked up by UFC -- including Santos’ contract. UFC, under the Zuffa regime, had never promoted a women’s bout. But the promotion opted to create a women’s bantamweight division, based primarily on the growing popularity of Rousey, who is 6-0 as a professional. Rousey is scheduled to defend her title on Feb. 23 against Liz Carmouche at UFC 157 in Anaheim, Calif.
With Rousey expected to survive Carmouche, UFC president Dana White has talked openly of a potential high-profile fight between his bantamweight champion and Santos. But Santos has repeatedly balked at the idea of dropping 10 pounds to face Rousey. The UFC does not have a featherweight division or any other weight class for women, besides bantamweight.
And White has stated a fight between Rousey and Santos must be for the 135-pound title; he isn’t interested in a catch-weight bout. But during a UFC 156 prefight Q&A session with media members on Jan. 31, White softened his stance on the issue.
“It’s not a title fight,” White said. “If that’s what [Santos] is willing to do, go to 140, let Ronda defend her title a few times and see if Ronda wants to go to 140.
“If I know Ronda, she probably will anyway. Let’s see what happens.”
It’s been more than a week since White made that comment, but Santos has yet to be convinced that a 140-pound fight with Rousey is in the cards anytime soon. So she wants out of UFC.
“For her to get down to 135 pounds is physically impossible,” Ortiz said. “For a man, it’s different because we have a lot more water weight to take off.
“For Cris Cyborg to get down to that weight, she’s going to be 3 to 4 percent body fat. She wants to start a family later on, she wants to have kids.”