Saturday, August 22, 2009

Shame on You San Jose, Shame on Your Strikeforce

Last Saturday M, J, K, and I, went to see the Strikeforce MMA fight down in San Jose between Cris Cyborg AKA Cris Santos and Gina Carano -- formerly of American Gladiators.

It was shameful the way that San Jose treated Cyborg. I could understand if Gina Carano was local. But she wasn't. The boos that came from the audience when Cris Cyborg walked in, and even after she won, it was wrong. Cyborg was unquestionably a better fighter. She was also -- unlike any number of trash talking and swaggering fighters in UFC (think Brock Leznar or Michael Bisping) -- very sportsmanlike. She deserved a lot more respect from the crowd than she received.

At the end of the day, the San Jose fans booed Cyborg because she wasn't a hot girly girl like Gina Carano is.

Which brings me to my next issue.

In the lead up to the fight, Strikeforce and the media focused on this whole idea that Gina Carano was the "face" of female MMA.

Face is right -- she's gorgeous.

But I got a bad feeling that Carano was probably being used by Strikeforce to help boost ratings and help market female MMA.

You ask what I mean, think of the following.

- Unlike, say Olympic Tae Kwo Do or Karate or professional boxing, there isn't a firmly established female MMA league within the big professional MMA organizations. MMA hasn't been around long enough to create a female league at a grass roots level.

- Most MMA fans are still guys, and you have to appeal to the guys in order to boost interest in women's MMA.

- If you have to appeal to the male audience, which one is more likely to attract attention -- a gorgeous women without a blemish on her face, or a girl who is really tough and looks like she spent her youth street fighting?

Carano went into the fight with an 8-0 record. Cyborg was 7-1. I strongly suspect Carano's eight previous fights were with women that her managers and the Strikeforce managers knew were going to be easy fight. Cyborg on the other hand was probably fighting a much tougher crew of women -- and probably practiced by fighting guys who were in the same weight class to toughen her up.

Seeing Carano cry at the end of the match, I felt sorry for her and angry at Strikeforce fight organizers. In the end, they set this poor girl up, and used her, to market their newest product.

Shame on you, Strikeforce. Shame on you.

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