Whether you're in the Gina Carano camp or the Chris "Cyborg" Santos camp, and especially if you're in neither but you know about this fight, I hope you'll join me in a moment of appreciation.
This Strikeforce MMA title fight was possibly the biggest female combat sports fight ever, thanks to the momentum of MMA, the marketing by Strikeforce, the marketability of Gina, and modern information dissemination. Before this, only boxing had a few big-name female fights touch the fringe of mainstream spotlight - a few of Martin's fights, Rijker's fights, and Ali vs. Frazier. But Carano vs. Cyborg took us where previously only Rijker vs. Martin could have.
People who never followed MMA woke up to find articles about this fight splashed all over the Internet homepages of the big pop culture news aggregates like Yahoo. And in today's world, that means you're officially on the radar. The mainstream radar. Where the tweens, teens and adults 18 - 45 live.
The buzz reached fever-pitch inside the fan world, and brought in audience MMA doesn't usually capture. The fight drew in me, for instance. I'm a female pugilist critical of MMA, but was compelled enough to fork over $25 to watch the livestream. It was worth it.
This fight helped propel not only MMA, but female combat sports into the light of legitimacy. So many women sweat, slug and stronghold their way through training and competition, in all manner of combat sports, and their recognition is limited to the small community within their local fighting subculture. But talent has never been enough, in anything. It takes major promotion and major media hype, big bucks and big power, to get individual fighters and matches fixed in the public eye.
There will be a challengingly small pool of talent for Strikeforce to draw on to match Cyborg and keep just some degree of this momentum going. But there is no small pool of talent in the world at large when it comes to female combat athletes. And every fighter should take heart from this fight, for breaking the barriers its has and moving consciousness forward just a bit.
Just as in training, as long as there's progress, it's a good thing.
- Women in Mixed Martial Arts: Fighting for Equality Part I, by Katalin Rodriguez-Ogren for Chicago Now