There has been a lot of attention on Cris “Cyborg” Santos, the Women’s World MMA Champion who lives and fights out of San Diego. Cris burst on the American MMA scene with 8 fights to her name prior to her U.S. debut against then Strikeforce Champion Gina Carano, who Cris overwhelmed with a 1st round TKO victory. Since stripping Carano of her title, Cris has defended her own title twice in dominant fashion and is favored to be the champion for the foreseeable future. But as with any champion, there is always someone who helped get them there. In this case, that person is Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos, the man who taught Cris much of what she knows, shared his fight name “Cyborg” with her, and then married her, giving her his last name as well. But who is Evangelista Santos? Where did he come from? And what is his story?
Evangelista Santos is a Brazilian MMA fighter with 31 fights to his record. He comes from Curitiba, the capital and largest city of the Brazilian state of Paraná, located in the south of Brazil. Curitiba is considered one of the best places to live in Brazil, with a strong European influence coming from German and Italian settlers. Curitiba is also home to Chute Boxe, the Brazilian martial arts academy known for its devastating style of Muay Thai Kickboxing. Chute Boxe is the gym that launched the careers of famed MMA fighters Anderson Silva, Shogun Rua and Wanderlei Silva. But beyond those fighters, Chute Boxe also started the career of MMA fighter and trainer Evangelista Santos, who is responsible for helping Cris Santos become the fighter she is today.
Evangelista has been on the MMA scene for 13 years, turning pro at the age of 20 in November 1997. Tutored by Rudimar Fedrigo, the founder of Chute Boxe, Evangelista made his professional mixed martial arts debut as part of a one-night, eight-man tournament held by the Brazilian Vale Tudo organization (Vale Tudo means “Anything Goes” in the Brazilian language). From his start in 1997 until the present, Evangelista has fought 31 times, battling against such MMA standouts as Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, the current Light Heavyweight Champion of the UFC.
After many fights in Brazil, the fast-paced and relentless style of Evangelista’s striking earned the attention of the Pride Fighting Championships in Japan (Pride was the biggest MMA organization in the world at that time). Evangelista made his Pride debut in 2006, fighting twice before Pride was bought out by the UFC in March 2007. Evangelista then started 2008 by fighting highly regarded striker Gegard Mousasi . After that, Evangelista fought for the new Japanese promotion Sengoku, earning himself a spot in Sengkou’s 8-man middleweight tournament, where he faced the Shooto Light Heavyweight Champion.
Evangelista then signed to fight with MMA organization Strikeforce, the largest challenger to the UFC. He fought contender Joey Villasenor to a split decision in the 185 lb. weight class and then dropped to 170 lbs. for his next Strikeforce fight, defeating another feared striker Marius Zaromskis, who had just fought Nick Diaz for the Strikeforce 170 lb. title. Evangelista made quick work of Zaromskis, defeating him by TKO in the 1st round. Now, armed with his tremendous amount of experience and finally fighting at his natural weight of 170 lbs. (he fought at 205 and 185 for his whole career until 2009), Evangelista is predicted to be a serious threat in the welterweight division.
Not just a skilled fighter, Evangelista is also an outstanding trainer, known for his vast array of striking techniques and intense work ethic. He has worked with a number of other athletes besides his wife Cris, including his other teammates from the Chute Boxe academy in Brazil. But now that Evangelista is based out of San Diego, he needed a new gym to call home. Naturally he chose The Arena, the San Diego MMA gym where his wife Cris Santos trained for her last 2 title defenses while Evangelista was in Brazil preparing to move to the U.S.
Since moving to San Diego, Evangelista is training fighters out of The Arena, where he works with The Arena’s fight team alongside fellow coaches Pat Speight and Jeff Clark. In fact, he is partnering with his wife Cris to create Santos Training, which will feature their particular style of training for conditioning and martial arts. The Santos Training program will be conducted out of The Arena. Cris Santos will be training women 3 times a week at The Arena in the morning and Evangelista will be training men immediately afterwards. Their practice sessions will focus on a variety of drills and conditioning, which will make training accessible for a variety of people besides professional fighters.
For anyone interested in getting in amazing condition and learning some great techniques along the way, this is an incredible opportunity to work with two of the best in the business. To find out more information about this program or The Arena, go to www.thearenamma.com or call 619-222-5554.