Marloes Coenen wants to play spoiler to Cristiane 'Cyborg' Santos' comeback



Cyborg vs. Coenen II: for revenge and a belt
  • Esther Lin/Invicta FC
  • Cyborg vs. Coenen II: for revenge and a belt

Marloes Coenen will be out for revenge when she enters the cage July 13 against Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos at Invicta FC 6, at the Ameristar Casino. That's more than hype-video fodder - though it is the title of one video - for the 32-year-old Dutch submission specialist.

In March 2010, Coenen lost to Cyborg by a third-round TKO. Cyborg lived up to her moniker, coming at Coenen like a Terminator and unleashing a barrage of fists. Coenen would later say she had never been hit harder. She admittedly underestimated Cyborg's strength. She won't this time around.

"I know what to expect right now," Coenen tells The Pitch in a Skype interview during a break from her training in the Netherlands. "So I won't be overwhelmed by her and the terror she brings upon me."

Coenen has increased her training regimen. Focused on improving her strength and conditioning, she has entered "War Camp," twice-a-day group training sessions.

"It's really starting to pay off," says Coenen, who has built a 21-5 career record (three knockouts, 15 submissions and three decisions) and held the Strikeforce women's championship. "It's really exhausting, but I feel like I'm getting really, really much stronger."

The potential payoff is a big one. On the line is not only redemption but also the vacant Invicta FC featherweight title. Also at stake is a chance to play spoiler to Cyborg's comeback; Cyborg served a yearlong suspension for a positive steroid test. Cyborg's manager, former UFC fighter Tito Ortiz, is already pushing for a matchup with UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey. Coenen may have a say in derailing those plans.

"If I win, that scenario is out the door," says Coenen, who doesn't appear to be worried about Cyborg's past steroid use. "I don't think she's using the stuff anymore - at least, not that much anymore."

But would she want to fight Rousey?

"To me, a fight with Cyborg is way more interesting than a fight with Ronda," Coenen says. "With Ronda, it's interesting because you will get a lot more media attention. I don't want to talk bad about other people, but Cyborg, for me, is really a challenge. It's really exciting to fight against her. With Ronda, at the moment that she heard she has to fight Cyborg, she drops to 135 [pounds]. To me, you're not a true fighter. Oh, yeah, I want to fight you. But you've got to come to 135. ... To me, I don't have too much respect for people who act like that. I do have respect for her. She's an amazing grappler. She knows how to play the media really good. But for a true fighter, there's no one cooler to fight than Cyborg."

Coenen is focused on Cyborg. Her scouting began with Cyborg's Invicta debut in April, when Cyborg coincidentally pounded Coenen's last opponent, Fiona Muxlow, on the way to a first-round TKO. (Coenen submitted Muxlow in the first round of a New Year's Eve fight in Saitama, Japan.)

Coenen asked Muxlow after the fight to compare how hard her future opponent hits. Muxlow told her about 20 percent harder.

"After that I really amped up my training," Coenen says. "She will be stronger than me, but not that much stronger."

Mixed martial arts became Coenen's life at an early age. She started training when she was 14. It was always in her blood: Her grandfather taught jiujitsu during World War II, and her older brothers trained in karate and Thai boxing. But Coenen began training for a different reason: her route to school. She had to bicycle through a wooded area that was said to be home to "dirty men" who preyed on children.

"It's a scary thing," Coenen says. "There are trees everywhere, and it's dark in the morning. You're all by yourself. It's awful. There were always talks about dirty men showing [themselves]. If you want to kidnap a girl, you go there. It's very lonely. So I thought, I have to defend myself."

Her professional MMA career began in 2000. She won eight consecutive fights before losing a December 2004 match. She has since taken on many of the biggest names in women's MMA.

"I'm a good fighter," Coenen says. "I've been around longer than any of the girls. ... I like fighting. I like training. If I can become a champion, it's awesome. And if I can make a lot of money, even better."

Coenen arrived in Kansas City Monday for her final fight prep and to shake off jet lag. After Saturday's fight, she'll stay a few extra days to take in the city. And she has plans to celebrate her trainers' birthdays at Papa Bob's Bar-B-Que, in Kansas City, Kansas, with the "Ultimate Destroyer Challenge": a 45-minute competition to clean a plateful of 7 pounds of barbecue meats, smoked hamburgers, breads, fries, pickles and jalapeño peppers. Finish and it's free (and your picture goes on the wall of fame). Fail and pay $58 (and be added to the wall of shame).

But first, Coenen has to survive her own Ultimate Destroyer Challenge.

"Every time you have a loss, you want to redeem yourself," Coenen says. "I really want to win. I really want to have the belt."

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