Though the idea of women fighting in a cage still isn't for everyone- and never will be- the bottom line is that the heart and skill of Gina "Conviction" Carano, seemingly the woman leading the charge of female MMA into the mainstream, has been winning fans over slowly but surely. Whereas some people thought her inclusion on those initial EliteXC cards was simply a marketing ploy designed to use her pretty face to sell tickets, most that have seen her in action are now convinced that she's as true a fighter as anyone out there. On the flip side, ever since people saw Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos- her upcoming opponent at Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg on August 15- they knew they were staring at a real MMA competitor. In fact, the American public seems somewhat mesmerized by the brutality of her stand up work and her explosive athleticism. The three straight fights she's won on American soil, needless to say, have not been close.
Different roads to their upcoming fight, same goal.
Fighting in the Main Event for a Strikeforce Championship
Both of these fighting women will now compete in the main event at Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg on August 15, 2009. It will be the first time that a female fight has served as the main event with men on the card for a major organization. Not to mention, the winner will be named the first ever Strikeforce female world champion.
“I have the ultimate, utmost respect for Cyborg," Carano recently said at a press conference that took place at Madison Square Garden. "This is the toughest fight of my life." Of course, it's not like Cyborg is taking her opponent lightly either. "“I think the one who makes the fewer mistakes will win this fight," Cyborg said. "I am expecting a war. I have been training a lot since my last fight. I am ready and very excited.’’
Talk about pressure. And that's not even the half of it. As the title of this article says, this fight is for all the marbles.
Carano and Cyborg Fighting for More Than Just a Belt
Yes, this fight is about a championship. But as has been the case every time these women have stepped into a cage, it's about more than that. Everyone has been pointing to this fight for awhile now as the pinnacle of female MMA. These two represent the two biggest stars in the sport. They are women who can flat out fight.
Because of this, their battle will serve as a catalyst for present and future fighting women.
“I want to thank the media and the fans for keeping it (MMA) alive," said Carano, clearly realizing the significance of her fight with Cyborg beyond what it will mean to her personally. "It has given me a career. I have a passion for my job and I hope we reach other people to get the sport even stronger."
In the end, this is the biggest fight, by far, in female MMA history. Both of these women know it, and there is pressure as a result. But guess is that people who to choose to watch Carano and Santos go at it, whether they like the idea of women fighting in a cage or not, will leave under the impression that they just saw two professional female athletes in competition. If that ends up being the case, female MMA will be better off as a result.
READERS RESPOND: Is Female MMA a passing fad or will it continue to grow beyond the Carano-Cyborg fight? Tell us your thoughts.