While Strikeforce is currently spearheading the women’s MMA movement in the U.S., it’s far from the only promotion showing support for female fighters.
This past year, Bellator hosted a women’s 115-pound tournament, and on Dec. 10 in Moscow, Russia, M-1 will hold a match to determine the promotion’s 145-pound champion when undefeated Cindy “Battlecat” Dandois takes on Yana Kunitskaya.
A 26-year-old mother of two who initially got into Judo to keep fit, Dandois has exploded onto the MMA scene, defeating current Strikeforce 135-pound champion Marloes Coennen in her first fight and hasn’t looked back.
“Everybody was sure she would walk over me like nothing,” Dandois told MMAWeekly.com. “She didn’t, and I won that fight after five months of training and not even one boxing lesson.”
With the support of those around her and working out of her brother’s Perfect Team MMA in Belgium, Dandois has racked up four wins in a row and earned the right to compete for M-1’s women’s 145-pound title against Yana Kunitskaya (3-1).
“Yana is a great person. I like her a lot and I do respect her,” stated Dandois. “She is very aggressive and has a great stand-up game. She hits hard, kicks hard, and I admire her strengths… but of course I have my strengths too.
“I am flexible, I can take a punch, and I will fight till I drop,” she laughed. “And I guess this is my strongest point regarding the fact Gegard (Mousasi) always repeats it, I never lose my breath, I have good physical conditioning.”
The fight is scheduled to stream live from the Druzhba Arena in Moscow on M-1’s website, as well as on MMAWeekly.com. It’s an opportunity for Dandois that is still somewhat foreign to her, knowing people from all over the world will be logging on to watch her fight.
“It’s sometimes strange for me to realize I do have fans because I consider myself nothing special, just a girl who loves to fight,” commented Dandois. “The moment I go for the fight, it’s only thing I can see, though, it is nice to know there are people who support me all over the world.”
Should Dandois defeat Kunitskaya, she could be considered one of the top women’s 145-pound fighters and it could perhaps line up a match between her and current Strikeforce champion Cris “Cyborg” Santos.
“If I get the opportunity to fight Cris ‘Cyborg’ I would grab it, and train for it like hell,” exclaimed Dandois. “But there are several names in Strikeforce I want to face too.
“Which fights I take is up to my management. I trust them to make those decisions for me because me; myself, I would take any fight.”
While she would train as hard as she could to take on any challenge, do not expect Dandois to follow suit of some female fighters and lose her feminine appearance.
“I will be honest, I love Cris’ style in the cage, but I want to keep my female figure and I don’t want muscles like that. I prefer having Gegard be more muscular than me,” laughed Dandois, who is dating Mousasi. “I like fighting and that is ‘manly’ enough for me.”
Either way, expect to see more of Dandois in the coming year, as she intends to not slow down any time soon.
“I want to fight a lot, I don’t care against whom,” she said. “I want to make my family and my boyfriend happy and support them where necessary. But most of all I want to stay active in this fighting business.
“I want to thank my brother and manager Apy Echteld, Gegard, and my fans for being interested in me and women’s MMA. My next fight will be streamed live at M-1Global.com on Dec. 10, so check it out.”