Wednesday, August 12, 2009
There couldn't be a better tag line for this fight than the one used in the title above, one which I heard yesterday for the first time in an advertisement for this historic bout.
Some critics may want to attack Cyborg and Carano's place in the overall scheme of Women's MMA, calling them unworthy of such a grand stage or the attention they've received, while other, perhaps better, fighters go seemingly unnoticed.
My response to those critics is this: On August 16, more people than ever before will have been exposed to high-level Women's MMA, and the likes of Tara Larosa, Sarah Kaufman and Shayna Baszler, to name three, will reap the rewards of what Carano and Cyborg are about to accomplish.
You would think that the critics who attack the headlining act of Strikeforce's August 15 event would be their strongest supporters, as they seem to want to champion the growth and development of WMMA , but then fail to recognize the importance of this fight towards that end.
Whether they're the most worthy females fighters of such an honor is secondary; of primary importance is that we have, for the first time ever, two outstanding female fighters headlining a major organization's event. Regardless of rankings or standing in the eyes of their critics, Gina Carano and Cris Cyborg are going to usher Women's MMA into a new era on Saturday night.
Personally, I couldn't think of two better females to have on opposite sides of the cage for such an important event than these two.
On one side you have Gina Carano, a fighter who has garnered the spotlight and been thrust forth as the "Face of Women's MMA" thanks to her exposure on American Gladiators and undeniable good looks, whose undefeated record is often an afterthought.
Across the cage, Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos, a "Muay Thai Machine" as Mauro Ranallo has taken to calling her, whose performances in the ring have often been more impressive than her counterpart, yet receive far less acclaim.
Each is the perfect nemesis for the other and their shared Muay Thai base will surely make for a more exciting fight than the first three bouts from last weekend's UFC broadcast.
Don't get it twisted - this is not a WWE Divas match where the combatants are more attractive than athletic; these two women are fighters first and everything else second, and each would quickly change anybody's opinion on female fighting with one straight right to the jaw.
Some in the MMA Community believe the fate of Women's MMA hangs on the results of this fight; specifically that a Cyborg win removes Carano as the face of the sport and somehow makes it less marketable.
I would say the exact opposite is true, regardless of who wins.
This fight is the start of something more for Women's MMA.
No matter who comes away with the belt around their waist, Carano will remain the "Face of WMMA" because, whether you like it or not, she is the most marketable female fighter on the planet and records don't matter as much as when you're talking about marketing revenue.
And that's a good thing, because anything or anyone who brings attention to the great wealth of talent in WMMA is a positive.
A Cyborg win doesn't mean the sport suffers; it means that maybe Sarah Kaufman gets an opportunity to fight for the belt against the women who beat Gina Carano, the Face of WMMA and the one, rightfully or not, currently viewed by some as the best female fighter in the game.
The bottom line is that the sport can't grow without exposure and Cyborg and Carano are bringing more attention to WMMA right now than anyone else could.
They're also going to show a whole bunch of guys that the words "You Hit Like a Girl" is taking on a whole new meaning.