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.