Category Archives: female MMA

Elite XC’s Evinger: “I’d Like to Make Out with Gina (Carano)”. And the Crowd Goes Wild?

My personal struggle with women’s MMA continues. Thanks to comments made by Tonya Evinger at the latest Pro Elite press conference to hype her bout with Gina Carano at tonight’s Elite XC event in Hawaii, this inner conflict is only getting tougher…and weirder.

“I’d like to make out with Gina, but I am here to knock her out,” said Evinger. “Either way she wants it, though, is fine with me.”

Believe it or not, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about that statement. Probably more than is healthy. I’ve decided that what Tonya Evinger is doing is either completely brilliant or else painfully demeaning and sad.

On one hand, Evinger accomplished what was obviously her objective. She got us to pay attention to her and not just Carano, and got us to talk about the one women’s fight on the card instead of the title bout between Robbie Lawler and Maurilo Rua, or any of the other fights, for that matter.

That’s pretty savvy on her part. Instead of dancing around the issues of gender and homo-eroticism (not to mention the force-o-nature that is Carano’ sex appeal), she’s going right at it. Maybe she just did it as an attention-grabber, maybe she did it as a commentary on the state of women’s MMA, or maybe she just genuinely wants to make out with Gina Carano.

Either way, people are talking about this fight now in a way they weren’t before.

But at the same time, it’s a little disappointing. If women fighters want to be taken seriously (and I’m guessing they do), is this kind of thing really helping? Is it telling us that they are real athletes and brave fighters, no different from their male counterparts, or is it encouraging us to see them as a sideshow attraction for prurient interests?

I honestly don’t know. It’s worth mentioning that when Evinger made this statement she was wearing a t-shirt that read, in part, “I may have a p@**y, but I don’t fight like one.”

It takes a certain kind of person to pull that look off. Tonya Evinger, so it seems, is that kind of person. She’s brash, confident, and outspoken. You have to admire that.

But Evinger is also an accomplished athlete. She’s a decorated wrestler and was a member of the all-female national freestyle team before becoming a professional MMA fighter. It would be a shame if that were overshadowed by antics and sound bytes.

After tonight, maybe we’ll know a little more about where women’s MMA stands. At the very least it should be entertaining.

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Filed under Elite XC, female MMA, Gina Carano, MMA, Pro Elite, Sports, Tonya Harding, women's sports

Hey. Two Women Are Fighting. Want to Watch?

Last night while flipping through the TV channels and wondering why Carlos Mencia isn’t dead from a combination of self-loathing and bullets, I caught a commercial for this weekend’s Elite XC event on Showtime. I don’t have Showtime on my TV set, and I’m not about to order it, but I got a little excited for this card upon seeing the ad.

What’s not to like about it? Robbie Lawler’s taking on the lesser of two Rua’s (“Ninja”), Nick Diaz is back in action after serving his six-month suspension for marijuana (totally harsh), and Jake Shields is fighting “Charuto” Verrisimo, which is a much more interesting match than Shields, or anyone, fighting Antonio McKee.

But what really caught my eye was the plug for another women’s MMA fight by Elite XC, again featuring the undeniably-skilled Gina Carano. This time she’ll be facing twenty-three-year-old Tonya Evinger, but that’s not really the point, is it? The point is that two women are fighting and one of them is Gina Carano, who is both a good fighter and a good-looking woman. And not just a good-looking woman for a female fighter, either.

I mean, who are we kidding? That’s why Elite XC is putting this fight on. If Carano were just a good fighter, would she be on this card? I doubt it. The appeal just isn’t there. If it was, they might be trying to build more female MMA stars than just her. Perhaps the more important question is, if Carano were just good-looking and only a mediocre fighter, would she be on the card? I think she might.

It’s this kind of question that makes it difficult for me to get into women’s MMA. I can’t shake the feeling that the people promoting it and making money from it are doing so for the wrong reasons.

Not long ago I had a conversation with female MMA fighter Debi Purcell about this very subject. She’s been in this sport for years and started the website FighterGirls.com to help women competitors find bouts. But even Purcell had to admit that the sport attracted an unsavory element at times.

Naturally, there are the emails she gets from men who aren’t into MMA as a sport, but would really like to see women wrestle around on the mat (don’t they know there are websites for this kind of thing…or so I’ve heard).

And then there are the promoters who just see it as a sideshow attraction, something to differentiate them from other MMA shows and help them draw the Foxy Boxing crowd to get a few more butts in the seats.

I guess what I’m saying is it all comes down to respect. Do people respect women’s MMA as a sport, or is it just something weird and different? Are they looking for good fighters, or just hot chicks who can pass for fighters? Then again, does it even matter? I’m sure some would argue that it’s good enough for someone to be putting these fights on TV, regardless of their intentions, because at least it gives female fighters a platform and a paycheck.

I can understand that sentiment, especially if you’re one of the women trying to make it as a fighter. They train hard and they deserve some recognition and some cash, just like the men do. But I can’t help but feel that if we don’t at least ask these questions now, one day we’re going to look up and Gina Carano will be fighting Tonya Harding in a mud pit on pay-per-view.

The truth is that fighting isn’t like other sports. You can watch women’s tennis without being forced to deal with inner conflicts about the nature of competition, violence, and gender equality.

Fighting is far more visceral. If people are putting women’s fights on TV because they are athletes who are as entertaining as men, fine. That’s great for everyone. But if that’s what they’re really trying to do, maybe they should try promoting more than just one female fighter.

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Filed under Debi Purcell, Elite XC, female MMA, Gina Carano, Tonya Harding, women's sports