Assessing The Womens Game: How Should Strikeforce Handle Its Division?
With Strikeforce taking most of the news for the week, and with Carano vs. Santos now less then two weeks away, now's the time for an article I've been thinking about writing for the past month.
When it was announced that the first women's title from a top promotion, would be a main event bout between golden girl Gina Carano and Christane Santos the MMA community seemed decidedly split.
Some considered the idea a farce, awarding a "cracker jack prize" to an over-hyped EliteXC freak show fight.
Others understood the idea of a Women's division complete with a champion would be a step forward for Women's prizefighting.
Although, I would prefer a Grand Prix to award such a champion to build name recognition.
The reaction really wasn't what interested me. I was more interested in specifics, namely what the weight limits and round structure will be.
Facts that still aren't fully known, we do know that the traditional five-by-five round structure will be the format for this fight, and will likely be the format for future title fights.
However what's the weight division going to be?
We know this fight will be 145 pounds. The question is will this be the set weight for the belt?
Do the fighters set a weight themselves? Do they agree to a weight mutually?
This is my overriding question, and one of the biggest factors to the divisions success.
The first idea is an open weight belt, a throwback to the old UFC Superfight Champion days. This however would likely be a disaster politically.
As soon as undefeated 5-foot-10, 210-pound, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter, Lana Stefanac beats Cyborg for the title, the whole world of MMA would likely be thrown through the ringer all over again.
So enough about that.
The next idea is the flat weight of 145 pounds. This idea maybe the safest from a political prospective.
It doesn't rock the boat, but you have to ask how can you fill a division out of just the 145-pound division?
As it stands, Strikeforce has almost all the best 145-pound female fighters out there. It's about five fighters deep—Gina Carano, Cyborg, Erin Toughill, Kelly Kobald, and Elaina Maxwell (and that's only for the Cung Le factor).
Other fighters would obviously look to cut or move up, but how good is that for the sport. Sarah Kaufman could make 145 pounds, but how much of her biggest assests, hand speed, and power, does she loose in the migration?
Marloes Coenen could move down as well, but again is this fair to the crop of 135-pound fighters moving up.
I say this is just a bad idea.
I feel the best option is a 135-155 pound belt, where the fighters agree mutually to a catch-weight for each fight.
This would create some headaches, but would lead to some big rewards as well.
For example, if Cyborg wins this fight like I'm on the record as picking, then the most logical next fight would be Kaufman vs. Santos. Kaufman prefers to fight at 135, Santos at 140-145 pounds and they could pretty easily agree to a 138-140 pound catch-weight.
Where it would get complicated is later on down the road, with fighters like Coenen who likes to fight at the top end of the class were to fight a fighter like Kaitlin Young, who likes to fight at the bottom end of the division.
Could Coenen get down to 140-145 pounds?
It doesn't seem like it when you look at her frame and it could derail a fight that needs to happen and create a lot of scheduling headaches, but for the next two or three years, it maybe the best course of action.
Even if it would likely doom the female Fedor (Megumi Fuji) to finishing her career in DEEP against fighters like Won Bun Chu.
I guess you can't win them all.
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