Home > Editorial Feature > July a Month for Women to Shine

July a Month for Women to Shine

July 2011 is shaping up to be one of the more interesting months in recent MMA history.  We’ve already seen a historic Bantamweight Title fight in the UFC between Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber at UFC 132, the same event that featured a stunning return to the win column for Tito Ortiz.  This has been a crazy start to a promising month of mixed martial arts action, and while the UFC might be done for the month, there are still some incredible fights ahead of us.

Later this month, there’s a DREAM card featuring champions Gegard Mousasi and Hiroyuki Takaya, a huge 123 pound Title fight for Shooto between top ranked fighters Yasuhiro Urushitani and Yuki Shojo, and a potentially classic fight between MMA legends Fedor Emelianenko and Dan Henderson.  We’ll also see great bantamweights like Masakzau Imanari, Masakatsu Ueda, and Akitoshi Tamura; we have the semifinals of the Bellator summer series featherweight tournament featuring Marlon Sandro and Ronnie Mann; we’ll see some other great Strikeforce fighters like Paul Daley and Robbie Lawler.

But as great as these fights are, they’re not what I’m looking forward to most over the next few weeks.  Don’t get me wrong, Fedor vs. Hendo and Urushitani vs. Shojo are fantastic fights that I can’t wait to see, but I’m even more excited for the women’s action in the month of July.  Take a look at the fights we can look forward to this month.

  • Women’s Welterweight: Sheila Bird (1-0) vs. Kim Couture (3-4)
  • Women’s Featherweight: Megumi Fujii (23-1, No. 2 WFW) vs. Mika Nagano (8-4, No. 15 WFW)
  • Women’s Featherweight: Mei Yamaguchi (8-2-1, No. 3 WFW) vs. Seo Hee Ham (8-4, No. 12 WFW)
  • Women’s Welterweight: Roxanne Modafferi (15-7, No. 3 WWW, No. 3 WLW) vs. Hitomi Akano (17-8, No. 6 WWW)
  • Women’s Middleweight: Hiroko Yamanaka (11-1, No. 2 WMW) vs. Esui (2-1)
  • Women’s Featherweight: Yuka Tsuji (22-2, No. 4 WFW) vs. Saori Ishioka (11-6, No. 14 WFW)
  • Women’s Featherweight: Kyoko Takabayashi (11-4-1, No. 5 WFW) Celine Haga (1-7)
  • Women’s Lightweight: Elsie Henri (4-4) vs. Amy Salopek (0-0)
  • Women’s Welterweight: Sarah Kaufman (13-1, No. 2 WWW) vs. Liz Carmouche (5-1, No. 8 WWW)
  • Women’s 120 lbs. Title: (c) Sally Krumdiack (8-4, No. 7 WLW) vs. Sarah Maloy (2-1)
  • Women’s Featherweight: Tomomi Sunaba (16-13-1) vs. Sadae Suzumura (1-0-1)
  • Women’s Lightweight: Casey Noland (2-1) vs. Nina Ansaroff (1-2)
  • Women’s Welterweight Title: Marloes Coenen (19-4, No. 1 WWW) vs. Miesha Tate (11-2, No. 3 WWW)
  • Women’s Welterweight: Alexis Davis (9-4, No. 9 WWW) vs. Julie Kedzie (16-8, No. 7 WWW)

Most of these fights will be taking place for the Jewels and Strikeforce promotions, though we’ll see fights for Freestyle Cage Fighting, Pancrase, and King of the Cage.  In all, we have 14 fights featuring 17 ranked fighters including the number three fighter in each weight class, three of the number two fighters, and one of the top ranked fighters in the world in Marloes Coenen.  In all, this could be the most stacked month of fights in the history of women’s MMA.

As much as I love men’s mixed martial arts, it’s possible that I enjoy the women’s fights even more.  In most sports, the women’s product is decidedly inferior to the men’s product.  The WNBA has been a punchline for over a decade, women’s softball has been frequently lampooned, and the Lingerie Football League is a terrifying prospect that insults the intelligence of all mankind.  Female sports are often poor substitutes for their male counterparts, but I don’t feel like that exists in MMA.

When watching women’s MMA, I never feel like the female fighters lack the skills of the male fighters.  I feel like Cristiane Santos and Marloes Coenen are every bit as talented as the top male fighters in MMA.  The fights don’t feel sloppy or inferior compared to the men’s fights and are every bit as entertaining.

The ratings for women’s MMA have also proven to be very good.  Strikeforce’s Cyborg vs. Gina Carano fight was one of the highest rated MMA fights in Showtime history, while fighters like Carano and Miesha Tate have quickly become fan favorites.  Some of this can certainly be attributed to both fighters being very attractive, but I think fans respect that these fighters kick serious ass when they step into the cage.

Of course, women’s MMA isn’t without its flaws.  We still see personal dust-ups between fighters, though they’re not nearly as entertaining as what we see from Chael Sonnen.  Miesha Tate and Tara Larosa recently had a very ugly exchange on Twitter that didn’t reflect particularly well on either fighter.  Most male fighters don’t get so personal with their trash talk, so it’s disheartening to see something like this from great fighters like Tate and Larosa.

There will also be a sect of MMA fans that always appreciate women’s MMA solely for the aesthetic qualities.  Some men seem to be incapable of appreciating women’s MMA for anything other than the fighters being attractive.  It’s at least good that these people are watching the fights, but does it matter if they’re only watching because a fighter looks good?

I’m hopeful that women’s MMA will be able to grow and thrive in the years to come.  With Strikeforce under Zuffa control, the future of women’s MMA in that promotion is up in the air.  Strikeforce abandoning the female fighters would be a serious blow, as the promotion is the largest to feature women’s fights.  Strikeforce has been a good showcase for women’s talent and I would like to see that continue.  For now, I’ll enjoy all opportunities I get to see these fights.

Categories: Editorial Feature
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