With UFC boss apparently warming, Strikeforce’s Coker says female fighting here to stay

Posted: August 19, 2012 in Uncategorized
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SAN DIEGO – Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker has long been a staunch supporter of women competing in mixed martial arts, and it seems he’s quickly developing a powerful ally.

UFC President Dana White, who has often expressed concern in regards to the viability of female MMA, was cageside on Saturday in San Diego to watch women’s bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey (6-0 MMA, 4-0 SF) continue her impressive streak, and Coker believes there should now be little doubt what women can bring to the sport.

“Female mixed martial arts is here to stay,” Coker said on Saturday. “Look at the fights tonight. They were unbelievable. They’re great athletes, and I think that tonight they showed that again.”

In total, three of Saturday’s eight “Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman” fights featured female talent. Featherweights Germane de Randamie (3-2 MMA, 2-1 SF) and Hiroko Yamanaka (12-2 MMA, 0-1 SF) didn’t exactly thrill the Valley View Casino Center in their preliminary matchup, but the striker vs. grappler affair played out as those bouts tend to when the fighter looking to bring the fight to the floor is unable to do so.

But the night took a dramatic shift for the better when former female champion Miesha Tate (13-3 MMA, 6-2 SF) and Julie Kedzie (16-11 MMA, 0-2 SF) went back and forth for the better part of three rounds before the artist formerly known as “Takedown” was able to register a submission win. White, who was watching the fights simply as a fan, couldn’t contain his excitement.

“WOW!” White wrote on Twitter. “Now I know who Julie Kedzie is!!!

“HOLY [expletive]. Tate is tough as nails!!!!!”

White’s excitement remained at a fever-pitch level following the night’s main event, where Rousey continued her impressive run as a professional fighter by notching her sixth-straight first-round armbar victory.

“Ronda is a BEAST!!!!,” wrote White, who attended this month’s UFC on FOX 4 weigh-ins wearing a T-shirt adorned with Rousey’s ESPN the Magazine “Body Issue” cover.

Coker, Strikeforce’s founder, has seen the women’s sport develop over the past six years and believes it’s time for the questions concerning legitimacy of the women’s product to stop.

“It’s here to stay,” Coker said. “Showtime loves female fights. I love the female fights. I’ve always believed in it.”

Since onetime rival promotion EliteXC shuttered its doors in 2008, Strikeforce has been the home to female MMA’s biggest stars. From Gina Carano to Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos to Rousey, the honorary “face of women’s MMA” has been a Strikeforce fighter. Questions constantly surround the future of the organization, but Coker insists for now, Strikeforce remains strong and is firmly committed to promoting the female game.

“We did the first female fight in 2006 with Gina Carano fighting Elaina Maxwell back in the day,” Coker said. “That was the first fight in the state of California that was sanctioned. We’re going to continue doing it.”

Whether or not the women will ever step into the UFC cage remains to be seen. White has long contended that there simply aren’t enough women in the sport to create a meaningful division, but upstart promotions like the all-female Invicta Fighting Championships are working hard to change that.

Recently, White has even been quoted as saying, hypothetically speaking, that Rousey could someday potentially serve as the first female to fight in the UFC’s octagon. While television contracts and operational policies currently make that dream impossible, it’s obvious White is at least taking more notice of what female fighting is all about.

And Coker believes it’s time for others to do the same.

“I think they’ve proved themselves again and again and again,” Coker said. “Those questions, I think, should stop coming up.”

For more on “Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman,” including the official event results, stay tuned to the MMA Events section of the site.

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