Posts Tagged ‘Women’s MMA

17
Feb
18

Sometimes what we need is the sublime

I watched the Heather “The Heat” Hardy versus Ana “The Hurricane” Julaton Bellator 194 “cage” fight last night. The bout was the first of their two-fight series–the second to be fought in the boxing ring at a date to be specified. Watching it, I was reminded that it always comes down to the work we put into things.

I’ve been seeing Heather three mornings a week at Gleason’s Gym since before the move to Water Street. We generally roll into the gym about the same time–between 6:30 and 7:00 AM, her to a roster of clients of varying skills and abilities she trains in the sweet science, and me to my work with trainer Lennox Blackmoore.  By 9:00 AM, Heather has usually started her own training and if she’s readying for a fight adds yet more hours for “camp” while still keeping up with her clients well into the evening, and her obligations to her daughter–not to mention selling tickets to her fights, giving interviews, meeting with sponsors and potential sponsors, and so on.

Given this is Heather’s profession–it is no wonder she puts in the time and effort, but given that her main profession has been as a boxer, those extra hours generally don’t amount to the kind of money that can guarantee her any sort of financial stability. Realizing that, Heather made the jump to MMA where women are treated more equitably when it comes to the purse at the end of a fight–not to mention a chance for exposure on television and a decent spot on the card so fans can actually see the contest. This in contrast to boxing where even though Heather sells tens of thousands of dollars in tickets, she’ll still end up the second fight on the card with no one in the stands.

I’ll leave it to the critics and trolls on Twitter to discuss whether the fight was really “boring” or not.

What I saw was the work.

Heather, at age 36, has trained with intensity and it showed. She used her newly gained grappling skills to effect and demonstrated how seriously she’s taking the switch over to the MMA world–no less seriously than Ana Julaton who also eschewed a boxing/kicking contest for the ground game and the perimeters of the cage.

More to the point, I was struck my Heather’s patience and acceptance of  what was coming at her as the fight played out. That spoke to a maturity in how she was approaching the fight–and gave truth to her insistence that she was working on adding “tools” to her arsenal of options in the cage.

Thinking about it later, it put in mind that we all need to take time with the things we are doing. That the fast pace of our American post-modern existence and its reliance on speed, the 24-hour rush of experience, and quick judgements that change from minute to minute, means that we lose out on the opportunity to be where we are when we are in it.

Aside from the will to win, the thing the best fighters bring to their bouts is the calm of being truly present. Surely that is a way towards finding our own moments of the sublime.

 

From the classic Jazz at the Philharmonic from 1949 at Carnegie Hall: Roy Eldridge (t); Tommy Turk (tb); Lester Young, Flip Phillips (ts); Charlie Parker (as); Hank Jones (p); Ray Brown (b); Buddy Rich (d). Recorded September 18, 1949 at Carnegie Hall, New York City. Original LP issue: Jazz at the Philharmonic Volume 13 Clef MG Vol 13

 

 

10
May
15

Three Minute Rounds for Female Boxing In New York State

Three-minute rounds for female boxing in New York State

Susan Reno

 

When Susan Reno (1-3-2) and Paola “La Loba” Ortiz (0-5-1) step into the ring at Brooklyn’s storied Masonic Temple on May 15th, they’ll be doing something no other female fighters in a sanctioned New York State bout have done before, they’ll be contesting their battle using the three-minutes per round they’re trained to fight, not the two-minute versions they’ve been consigned to.

A smattering of states quietly sanctioned three-minute rounds over the years. In California, current IBO heavyweight champion Sonya Lamonakis fought six hard three-minute rounds in 2013 against the current WBC champion Martha Salazar. While a surprise to Lamonakis, who’d expected the bout to be fought at two-minutes per round, in a recent conversation as she readies for her championship battle against Gwendolyn O’Neil in St. Maartin on May 30th, she said, “Well I’m all for it. I did it already for six rounds in California. I think it may even make the women more elite.”

Of all the states, however, Nevada has led the way in sanctioning three-minute round female bouts. Most notably, beginning in 2007, the Boxing Commission worked with pound-for-pound women’s boxing great Layla McCarter  to not only sanction longer rounds, but twelve round championship bouts. In the late 1970s, there were also more than a few boxing matches that were contested at three minutes per round, and even a couple of fifteen round championship bouts, but otherwise, women’s boxing has long been relegated to near on amateur status when it comes to professional fighting: two-minutes per round with a maximum of ten rounds for a championship fight.

The issue of three-minute rounds has been a crucible for women’s boxing, and lies at the heart of legitimizing the hard work and effort that goes into professional boxing contests between female fighters including such matters as television time and the pay checks female boxers receive, which are paltry compared to their male counterparts. The “joke” is that women are told they receive less pay because they only fight two-minute rounds! It is also part of a continuing argument on issues of female stamina and even whether the monthly menstrual cycle affects the ability of women to fight longer. The latter was part of the argument used by the World Boxing Council (WBC) sanctioning body, which in supporting championship belts for women, has also waded into the fray by stating they would only sanction two-minute round, ten round bouts for women.

Alicia “Slick” Ashley, a former WBC champion has been outspoken on the three-minute round issues. In her experience, she’s, “felt the pressure to perform quicker because of the two-minute time limit which of course is better suited for volume punchers but as a boxer I’ve learned to adjust and started my fights off faster.”

She also argues that, “MMA had the foresight to have women on an even footing immediately is something that powers behind boxing never had,” and goes on to say, “How can you say women cannot box three-minute rounds when MMA proves that women can fight five-minute rounds? Hopefully MMA will help open the eyes of the boxing world. We as female fighters can only keep pushing for change or at least the option of fighting for three minutes.”

When asked about New York State’s decision to sanction three-minute rounds, she said, “I’m very happy that NYS had the option of women fighting three-minute rounds if both parties agree. The fact that the Commission understands that women can and will fight longer if given the opportunity is a step in the right direction to competition and hopefully pay equality.”

Boxing trainers also agree that holding women to two-minute rounds is arbitrary at best. Veteran Lennox Blackmoore who has been training female champions since the late 1990s including Jill “the Zion Lion” Mathews the first woman to win a New York Daily News Golden Gloves contest in 1996 said, “I think that’s great. When a woman trains, she trains three minutes a round like anybody else. I don’t see why she shouldn’t fight that way. There are a lot of good women boxers, and it’ll show people what they can do. Jill Mathews fought ten rounds for a championship belt, but it could have three-minute rounds too, she had the experience and the endurance to do that because she trained that way.”

Grant Seligson, a trainer at Gleason’s Gym who works with an array of female fighters from White Collar boxers on through competitive fighters agrees. “Women’s endurance is not only as good as a man’s, but is often better. Besides it’s women competing against women of the same weight, so why shouldn’t it be three minutes a round.”

Given the momentum of women’s MMA with its five-minute rounds–the same for male and female fighters–, and the obvious appeal  female boxers continue to have with audiences even given the virtual media blackout in the United States, the fact that the NYS Boxing Commission has opened things up is something to be applauded.

To learn more about how this all came about, boxer Susan Reno agreed to take time from her busy training schedule to detail her experiences with Girlboxing readers. We all owe a lot to the New York State Boxing Commission’s, Melvina Lathan and David Berlin, along with Susan Reno, Paola Ortiz and Uprising Promotions for what will be an historic event on May 15th.

Paola “La Loba” Ortiz (l) and Susan Reno (r) will fight the first sanctioned 3-minute per round female bout in New York State on May 15, 2015 at Brooklyn Masonic Temple. Credit: Susan Reno

 

  1. In the world of women’s boxing, 3-minute rounds have been the “Holy Grail”? How in the world did you convince the NYS Boxing Commission to sanction 3-minute rounds for your upcoming six-rounder with Paola Ortiz?

There was very little convincing! It just took time. I feel New York has seen female boxers demonstrate time and time again, that we belong in the ring and know what we are doing.  In 2013 Vanessa Greco and I fought a fast-paced, six round draw. After witnessing our action packed bout, NYSAC Chairperson, Melvina Lathan and long-time NY Promoter Bob Duffy both agreed that it was time for women to fight three-minute rounds. Not only are we capable, but we are entertaining and the longer rounds could help avoid draws.

The opportunity did not present itself until this year (I had only fought in California in 2014). In a conversation with NYSAC Executive Director, David Berlin, he wondered out loud “why don’t women fight three-minute rounds?” I jumped on that thought and said, “I’ll do it!”  He too, recognized women have the skill, stamina and focus to fight the same amount of time as the men. His response was “let’s make history!”

I was unaware that there had not been a female boxing match consisting of three-minute rounds in New York. I knew that both Melissa Hernandez and Belinda Laracuente had both fought Layla McCarter in Vegas and their bouts were three-minute rounds. I definitely wanted to seize the opportunity and follow in their footsteps.

My team, Ronson Frank/Uprising Promotions and Paola Ortiz’s camp all agreed to the three-minute rounds and the Commission approved and as the saying goes, “the rest is history.”

  1. WBC has come out to say they would not sanction 3-minute round female boxing championships citing what many have considered to be specious “science.”  What do you feel the response should be from female fighters?

I respect the WBC’s decision to not sanction three-minute rounds. They run a business and every business has to protect itself. I love your phrase “specious science” Malissa! There is no shortage of it on the internet! I can understand a company’s struggle with “inconclusive” or “cloudy” data. Maybe when the question regarding three-minute rounds came up, the answers where not ones they were ready for. From a business standpoint the question is to invest (sanction 3 minute rounds) or not invest? While I respect their decision, I don’t have to agree with it. I feel female fighter’s response should be to invest in our ourselves. Take the best possible care of ourselves physically and mentally and get in the ring and prove them wrong!

  1. Every woman I know who boxes (myself included) trains and spars for three-minute rounds, but when it comes to fights, has had to adjust to two-minute rounds competitively.  How does that affect your fight plan?

I feel the adjustment from training three-minute rounds to fighting two-minute rounds applies unnecessary pressure to “get the job done.” I know many women who can pace out and box the two-minute rounds. World Champion Alicia Ashley does it beautifully and consistently. But many times, the two minutes can create more of a battle than a boxing match. While this can be exciting and fan friendly, it can be difficult to set traps for your opponent and catch them before the bell rings. I imagine the short rounds can make judging difficult as well.

  1. With a three-minute round fight, what adjustments to your fighting style do you feel you will make–or, is this the “natural” way to fight, since it’s the way you train, and the adjustments have come in the two-minute round battles?

I have proven time and time again that I can fight. Now it’s time to box and I feel I will be more comfortable knowing I have more than 120 seconds at a time to hunt, trap and catch my prey.

  1. Now that NY State has sanctified a three-minute fight, what do you think the future will hold?

I feel this fight will open the door to all of the talented and dedicated female fighters in New York as well as those (such as my opponent Paola Ortiz) who are hungry to prove our worth in the business of boxing. Boxing is a business. I understand that. One excuse women are given in regard to our fight purse, is that we fight shorter rounds. Some promoters say that since we fight less time, that equals less pay.  So I say, let’s fight the same amount of time and take away that rationale. I recognize that what I can do in boxing right now, can benefit women in the future. It is my hope that in the near future, professional female boxers can get on TV, gain recognition and get paid for their work same as professional male boxers. I believe fighting three-minute rounds will help level the playing field and create equal business opportunities.

05
Mar
12

Smackdowning down the boundaries of the ring: Women’s Boxing and MMA!

Smackdowning down the boundaries of the ring: Women’s Boxing and MMA!

Ronda Rousey vs. Miescha Tate, March 3, 2012, Credit: Greg Bartram/US Presswire

Saturday night, Strikeforce aired a fabulous night of MMA bouts on Showtime that included Ronda Rousey’s (5-0) stunning take down of women’s bantamweight title holder Miesha Tate (12-2) with an armbar submission 4:27 into the first round.  In Rousey’s crowning as the new MMA bantamweight champion, heads are turning because of the high caliber of the effort both of these women put into the fight, but the “chops” they brought with them.  Rousey is a an Olympic Bronze Medalist in Judo, and Tate has been a sure-fire crowd pleaser since entering the ring.  Sarah Kaufman’s efforts against Alexis Davis were also hailed as “good” MMA.

So here’s the question: Where is women’s boxing in all of this?

Don’t get me wrong, it is FABULOUS to see MMA being promoted and aired as part of Showtime’s Strikeforce franchise and equally fabulous to read the positive press. David Casitlllo’s piece in The Bloody Elbow.com is a case in point, entitled Strikeforce Tate vs. Rousey Results: Why Women’s MMA Belongs In The Ring, includes the statement, “Rousey just “gets” MMA. There’s a brilliance to her game that reveals itself in the way she transitions. In understanding that each shift from one phase to the next is an opportunity. And that a takedown can be a sequence rather than a precession.”

What we are not seeing is the willingness of Showtime, HBO and ESPN to air these elite female fighters on their boxing shows.  It’s not as if the caliber of fighting isn’t there!  Flash back to the incredible displays of boxing prowess at the women’s Olympic Team Trials for one, but more importantly, take a look at the professional women who box their hearts out for a pittance, grateful for the opportunity to box at all nevermind a chance at a video stream.

Amanda "The Real Deal" Serrano and Ela "Bam Bam" Nunez after "fight of the year" contender

And if you’re looking for a case in point, look no further than undefeated IBF female super featherweight title holder Amanda “The Real Deal” Serrano’s (14-0-1, 9-KOs) February 17th effort against Ela ‘Bam Bam’ Nunez (11-13-2) in an eight round co-main event non-title bout in Chicago. Boxing websites such as Philboxing.com are calling the battle an early contender for “fight of the year” status, but otherwise, it’s not as if the offers are pouring in to Serrano who puts on that caliber of fight EVERY TIME she enters the ring.

The fight was streamed live and for free on 360boxing.com, and for those lucky enough to watch the fight, it was a boxing treat albeit, within the parameters of a video stream with lagging images and breakups.  Imagine how much better and more exciting it would have been if it had also been promoted on Showtime?

So again, what’s the deal?  How about putting women’s MMA and Women’s Boxing on the airways!  And P. S., female boxers are VERY capable of fighting three-minute rounds!

In case you missed it, here’s the Serrano v. Nunez February 17, 2012 fight.  You be the judge.

02
Aug
11

Women’s Boxing/Women’s MMA

Women’s Boxing/Women’s MMA

NBC sports has a piece on their website by Rick Chandler entitled The Beatdown: The Future of Women’s MMA that’s plain old got me down.  I admit that I’m new to MMA — and while I’ve done the odd piece about it, I haven’t got much experience with the sport and only watch it occasionally on television when there’s no boxing on.  That’s usually meant catching part of a Strikeforce fight card on Showtime.

What had struck me about Strikeforce was the fact that there is always at least one women’s bout on the card, not to mention the seeming popularity of the women’s bouts.  Just this weekend I watched the Women’s Welterweight Championship bout between Marloes “Rumina” Coenen and Miesha “Takedown” Tate. Tate pulled out a convincing upset win over Coenen — and again, as a novice to watching the sport with about zero understanding of the politics of Strikeforce, et al, found it to be quite an interesting addition to the world of women’s sports in general.

With Chandler’s piece, however, come all sorts of questions as to whether women’s participation in the sport of MMA will continue at all — or as Chandler writes will “the answer … be found by simply looking at women’s boxing. Wait is there still women’s boxing?”

Ugh!  What!?!  Is there still women’s boxing? Pa-lease!

Chandler’s thesis is that with Strikeforce’s recent sale to Zuffa (the UFC’s parent company), a situation may have been set up whereby the Strikeforce roster will be swallowed up by the UFC and the women’s roster jettisoned in the process. Chandler further opines that the UFC doesn’t have the same interest in the women’s side of the sport as Strikeforce because there aren’t enough “stars” if you will, with the name recognition to draw in the crowds.

So what it boils down to (I think) is this:

a. Strikeforce found it to be “good” business to develop male and female talent and as such has found success and a growing *interest* in women’s MMA bouts and the fighters who compete in them.  (I’ll add that I’ve been applauding them all along and — how sad is this — tauting them as a model of inclusion because they televise women’s bouts!)

b. Along comes UFC and the potential for jettisoning the women’s roster of the “old” Strikeforce and a repositioning of the brand towards a more exclusively male roster.  Hmm… no longer good business???

c.  It’s the fault of women’s MMA (women’s boxing … and women’s sports in general) for not engendering (pun intended) enough interest in women’s athletics, because (1) women fighters are not attractive when they beat the crap out of each other and (2) to quote Chandler again, “the appeal for the best female fight is not as high as for just an average male fight in the sport. If you’re not attracting eyeballs, it’s harder to stay in business. Being included with a primarily male organization was a huge bonus for the women.”

So back to the contradiction again.  If women’s MMA was so horrible why buy Strikeforce in the first place?!?

I don’t know about you, but I find this logic to be very twisted indeed.  And P.S. — in watching the Tate-Coenen fight I didn’t think about gender, I thought about fighting!  Was it interesting?  Were they skilled?  Weaknesses/strengths and so on.

Enough already.

If a fighter has the courage to put herself in the ring why should it matter how big her breasts are or whether she has a cute booty!   A fight is a fight.  Put Torres-Nava I or II up against any fight card from over this past weekend and what will you come up with in terms of skills, heart, stamina and to use the word again pure courage.  I can tell you the answer, none.

All I can say at this point is GRRRRRRR.

And please, feel free to opine away!

23
Mar
11

MMA & Boxing: Taking a look!

MMA & Boxing: Taking a look!

I’m still trying to grapple with the sport of MMA (no pun intended).  It is certainly fast, exciting and tough.  With a growing fan base and movements to legalize MMA bouts in more states including, New York, I  thought it might be fun to post a few videos, courtesy of YouTube to see the great New Mexico fighter, Holly Holm in her first MMA bout as compared to Holly’s performance in a boxing match with Brooklyn’s own Belinda Laraquente.

From Holly Holm’s recent MMA debut bout vs. Christina Domke:

Classic Holly Holm vs. Belinda Laraquente in the ring from 2009:

Your thoughts will be appreciated!

 

05
Mar
11

Women’s Boxing and Women’s MMA

Women’s Boxing and Women’s MMA

 

Holly Holm (right) in her MMA debut, Photo: D. Archuleta

 

I’ll admit to being fairly new to the MMA concept, but boxer Holly Holm’s announcement that she would switch gears from fierce women’s boxing competitor to MMA has been fairly stunning.  Well last night in her MMA debut, Holly proved herself more that able as she dismantled her opponent, Christina “Machine Gun” Domke, in the second round by TKO.

In the preamble to her debut contest New Mexico’s own fighter Holly said, “I’m passionate about wanting to learn and do this …”  And learn she did, applying her super-charged southpaw boxing power to her kickboxing roots to become a winner, ending the fight with just that, a disabling kick to her opponent’s leg.

The bout has drawn a fair amount of buzz, especially in the MMA community as Holm considered by many to be pound-for-pound the best women’s boxer out there may well be the type of fighter to help galvanize the women’s MMA sport.

As I am really new to MMA — I’ll appreciate reader feedback on the sport, as well as some education.

For some video footage of last night’s fight click here and here.

05
Jan
11

The news at 6:30 AM: Women’s Boxing

The news at 6:30 AM:  Women’s Boxing

Clicking “women’s boxing” on Google’s news search brought in the following:

1. Casting call for Girl Fight MMA Reality TV Show. The show is to be called “Girl Fight.”  The article link is here.  The promotional video link is GirlFight TV show from Girl Fight on Vimeo.  This should be interesting. MMA is certainly gaining in popularity — I guess the producers see gold in bringing women to the screen. Girlboxing will keep you posted.

2. From the Himalayan Times:  Shova, Subina enter final.  The article about Nepalese amateur women’s boxing is here.

3. This piece from the UK Guardian is about ESPN-W listing a horse in the number four slot for women’s sports stories of 2010.  The Guardian article link is here and is worth the read.  ESPNW‘s original story links to a video story here.

The whole idea of listing a horse as part of a list of top 10 women’s sporting events is so absurd as to be laughable, however, as a window into the thinking of how such an influential media outlet as ESPN reports on women’s sports, it only confirms what we tend to know already … no surprise here. Just think Friday Night Fights, when was the last time a woman’s bout was featured … enough said.  The link to the FNF schedule for January & February is here.  Grrrrr.

One more thing, as a reminder, Alicia “Slick” Ashley has her “main event” bout on January 13, 2011 at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple.  You can contact Gleason’s Gym for further information or tickets here.




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