Ten years from now, when MMA is still riding high as one of the most popular sports in the world and female fighters are viewed as equally-talented purveyors of their respective arts as their male counterparts, one fight will serve as the benchmark.
While various fights on the August 15 Strikeforce card have come and gone, the one that has remained constant is the most important contests of the evening, the one pitting Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos against Gina “Conviction” Carano for the Women’s 145 lbs. Title.
But this fight is about far more than a title belt; it’s about equality, opportunity and making history.
Some critics are of the belief that the only reason this fight is earning top billing is the presence of Carano, “The Face of Women’s Mixed Martial Arts” and an attractive, marketable face at that.
While that undoubtedly has something to do with it, do not disrespect these fighters and the sport by believing that these women are unworthy of such a grand stage.
These are two of the best female fighters in the sport today, each on seven-fight winning streaks and each very much deserving of not only an opportunity to fight for a championship, but also of headlining an event.
If two male fighters of above average talent and popularity, each riding extended winning streaks, were set to do battle, the bout would be promoted through the roof and surely earn main event status. Fans would be chomping at the bit for the opening bell to sound.
But now, because the combatants are female, this fight is somehow less worthy?
What the people putting down this fight fail to recognize is that they’re watching history happen right before their eyes.
“There has to be a first” is a saying that I have used a lot in recent months, both in reference to my own life and career, as well as the world around us.
Someone or something has to break the mold, change the way we look at things, so that we can see just how normal and natural a once-foreign idea can truly be.
The concept of a Black President seemed impossible to many just twenty years ago, if not less.
Now, the future holds an opportunity for someone to be “the Second Black President of the United States of America.”
Just as there had to be a first Black President, there has to be a first female main event for there to be a second, and a third, and a fourth.
Ten years ago, this sport that so many of us follow with intense passion and fierce loyalty was all but dead; too violent and dangerous even for pay-per-view, yet we’ve stood by to watch it rise like Lazarus.
But now that the sport is alive and kicking, having two extremely talented female fighters atop the marquee is either outlandish or simply a novelty act to some?
Four years ago, two guys no one had heard of before they appeared on a reality television show captivated the masses and converted thousands, if not millions, to the sport of Mixed Martial Arts, earning a place in the history books.
This fight on August 15 is the female version of The Ultimate Fighter Season 1 Finale; an historic event that will one day be talked about with reverence as the fight that put Women’s MMA on equal footing with it’s male counterpart.
Change is inevitable, like death and taxes.
The question is where will you be when the change takes place?
Will you be in front of it, embracing it and being a part of it or standing on the sidelines, failing to accept what is happening before you and wishing things could just stay the way they were?
I’ll be taking part in history.
Hopefully I see you there.