Please conduct ALL of your discussion in regards to Cristiane 'Cyborg' Santos facing Jan 'Cuddles' Finney in this thread. All threads made in regards to this fight will be merged into this one.
LinkJan Finney (8-7 MMA, 0-0 SF) isn't rattled by bookmakers as she heads into her co-main event title fight against Strikeforce women's 145-pound champion Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos (9-1 MMA, 3-0 SF) at "Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Werdum."
After all, she's not the one who's supposed to win.
"It's just gives me more motivation," Finney today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). "It's great. There's no expectations for me."
Most current odds peg Finney at +800 to Santos' -2000, a smaller gap between an earlier line in which the champion stood at -2500.
Finney, who describes MMA as a "hobby" that compliments her regular gig as a personal trainer, has faced many top female competitors in almost six years of professional fighting, with mixed results.
Usually, she fights at 135 pounds, but she's fought as high as 150 pounds for a November 2008 bout with Erin Toughill, who was widely expected to fight Santos before contractual issues mired her return. Toughill, a former boxer with heavy hands, beat her by unanimous decision.
Finney sees a few similarities with that bout, but her experience going into Saturday's fight has been wholly different. For one, she's not fighting on three-weeks' notice, as she was against Toughill (last-minute bouts and cancellations are all too common in women's MMA). Finney has also remained active since January, when she entered an eight-women women's bantamweight grand prix for Freestyle Cage Fighting and bested her first two opponents by decision.
"Cuddles" pulled out of the tournament to fight Santos and has had seven weeks to prepare specifically for the bout. She won't be cutting weight this week.
"I'm a fairly strong girl, and I don't think people realize it," Finney said. "They just look at me as a 135-pound fighter. But I'm a big 135-pound fighter."
The Brazilian champion Santos, who cuts weight to make the 145-pound limit, has won half of her fights in the first round by bulldozing opponents early on with punches. Only two of them – Yoko Takahashi and Vanessa Porto, considered to be among the toughest female competitors in the business – have gone the distance with her.
Despite that impressive track record, Finney counters that most of Santos' opponents give in before they start to fight.
"I'm going to come right back at her," she said. "I'm not going to cower away. I'm probably going to be one of the strongest opponents she's faced. I'm not saying I'm as strong as her, but you never know – I might be.
"I think she tries to mentally break you. [She] just comes in aggressive (and) tries to break you right off the bat in the first two minutes – non-stop. The biggest thing is not just being able to weather that, but counter it, and move. ... Don't just take it."
Finney is coached by UFC veteran Mike Patt, among others, and spends the bulk of her time training with men at Beavercreek Martial Arts. She said the men don't hold back in the gym and hit harder than her female opponents, which has enabled her to develop toughness inside the cage.
"If you're faced with that every day, it just becomes the norm, and it's not such a shock when you get in the ring," she said.
Santos, of course, is married to and trains with fighter Evangelista Santos and shares his nickname. Famed MMA brawler Wanderlei Silva is a big fan of her work.
Finney knows what's coming, but she expects to be standing after the storm passes.
"I have a few tricks up my sleeve," Finney said of pulling off the upset. "I would also say I've got a pretty nice right hand."
If she wins Saturday, MMA might become more than just a hobby.
"It would be a dream come true, that all that work I've been putting into MMA has finally come to fruition," she said. "It may end up being more of a career."