The woman who single-handedly put her gender on the map, as far as MMA goes, is heading back into battle. I’ll be honest—at the risk of being sexist, I have mixed feelings about this.
While there will always be a wing of die-hard fight fans who think there’s no place for the ladies in such a testosterone-driven sport, there’s not too many men who don’t love watching Gina Carano fight. A growing number of female fight fans also seem to come especially alive when the ladies touch gloves at the center of the cage.
Count me among the devoted, but my mixed feelings come from a distinct desire to meet Gina Carano, woo her for at least three weeks, get married, and get to work on making a tribe of little warriors (boys and girls); our own little guerrilla army, so to speak.
Therefore, it’s in my own best interest to make sure that “the face” not endure many more brutal slug-fests, if you get my meaning.
In all seriousness, Carano’s return would seem conspicuous if it were a work of fiction, or if she hadn't seemingly made her mind up for a return long before the UFC/StrikeForce deal. It would seem too much like a “script” to be plausible in a movie, yet here we have it. The original “Queen of MMA” is back at precisely the right moment. The only question is, will it be a Hollywood ending?
In recent news, it appears Strikeforce (now under Zuffa control) is close to making a decision on Carano’s first opponent in twenty months. MMA Weekly recently ran a scoop that the promotion is focused on Sarah D’Alelio (4-1) for the June 18th card.
While it is a very exciting time for both women, should the fight come to fruition, there is a much bigger picture emerging involving the fate of women’s professional MMA. While the ladies side had firm support from Scott Coker all along, and more importantly the majority of fans, the fate of “the fairer sex” in the pro ranks is very much in doubt.
The next card featuring female bouts is significant no matter who is fighting, because it signals a reluctance on the part of Zuffa to kill the women’s high-level pro ranks now.
While it is true that Dana White’s and Zuffa’s stance has publicly been that StrikeForce will continue to operate as it always has until the end of its contract with Showtime, it’s also true that none of us believe them. There have been visible changes already and we get the feeling White is only warming up…sharpening the blade.
As I said just above however, ANY women’s fight in StrikeForce going forward is a major positive indicator that Zuffa (and Dana in particular) are going to reverse themselves on their previous position on the girls. White has previously been very vocal about his displeasure with the “non-spectacle,” but in the coming months a little reading between the lines will reveal everything about the future of women’s pro MMA.
If we were talking about any fight promotion other than Zuffa (the full umbrella) the indicators would be meaningless and there would be no predicting what was going to happen in the ladies ranks. Thankfully this is Zuffa, and while unpredictable in many respects, one thing is a constant—Zuffa is all business.
All wildly successful businessmen like the Fertitta brothers and White have a rule book which they follow, that being a bottom line. One cardinal rule in the playbook of A-Dog personalities in the business world is to NEVER get boxed in...never ever.
Some seemingly unexpected moves by the company in the past can be accredited to just this aspect—if a reversal needs to be made, it must be done as soon as possible, the sooner the better. Make it happen before they even know what happened is the modus operandi.
To understand White’s disdain for the ladies side you have to clearly identify the three types of brawlers in the mix. First we have the “Prom Queens,” meaning the Carano types but without the skills.
Then we have the “Non-Lookers.” These ladies are just a hair less attractive than their prom queen counterparts, but they can tear the limbs off the prom queens, as well as most of the guys you know. Cyborg fits this bill.
Now, right or wrong, the third category is the “Holy Grail.” Gina Carano is the Holy Grail for women’s pro MMA, particularly when she was No. 1. If a woman with Hollywood looks can rise to the very top and beat the daylights out of all comers, regardless of looks, well then you have the proverbial “license to print money.”
One thing Zuffa is not averse to is printing money. So the question of the survivability on the ladies side becomes this: Are there enough real fighters and Holy Grails in the game to counter Zuffa’s whole-hearted disdain for the prom queens?
Will Zuffa phase out Women's MMA?
While the next major card in StrikeForce featuring the ladies (and each subsequent card to do so) is no guarantee that Zuffa is reversing its previously long held position, it is a very strong indicator that wiping out the women’s pro MMA ranks is not in their plans. They either have reversed their position, or they are still debating it. They certainly have not made a decision to kill it.
This is both good and bad for me. I mean, I get to see one of my favorite things— my future betrothed kicking ass. On the down side, I have to witness said goddess putting “the face” at high risk of permanent injury for a full 15 minutes. It’s a chance Gina Carano is willing to take.