I have mixed feelings about this but on August 13th, Dennis Tarwood (our resident MMA expert) and I will be covering the Strikeforce Challengers event in Phoenix.
The headline fight (which will be on Showtime) features Joe Riggs and Louis Taylor and the event will also be the pro debut of Ryan Couture, son of fighting legend Randy Couture.
Before the boys mix it up, however, there will be a series of fights featuring women in the cage.
I'm not that into MMA to begin with and have never seen the girls fight before my prep for this event and frankly, I don't know what to make of it or what to expect.
There's no hiding the fact that the combination of violence and women triggers a primal reaction that I won't even try to explain but I think we can all acknowledge. Watching people beat on each other is age-old entertainment. Mix in the tantalizing element of sex and it's no wonder that promoters are putting these girls in the ring.
I asked my wife if I should be ashamed or scornful of the battle and in her post-feminist wisdom she basically said, "Who are we to judge if that's what they want to do." Before adding that she hopes I don't expect her to ever get in the ring.
Anyone who's spent any time around women athletes or women in general know better than to question their toughness. That's a non-issue.
Skill and talent is gender neutral so while the women fighting in Phoenix might not be the top in their sport they clearly are well-trained in their art and masters of their various disciplines.
But can the inherent lack of strength and speed make for a compelling competition or is this really just about sex and violence?
I am a big fan of women's basketball which a lot of people don't understand so I get this question a lot when it comes to the WNBA.
But in women's basketball the game has a separate appeal beyond the lack of size and explosive leaping ability. It is a different game that emphasizes different skills - fundamental basketball skills like shooting, passing and footwork - and for that reason is compelling in it's own right.
I am not enough of an MMA expert to know if the same is true when the women put on the small gloves and get in the cage. Watching a few You Tube videos, however, it seems to just me a slower version of the men's version.
If that's what it turns out to be, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Like my wife said, if these girls want to train and have the desire to fight than who are we to stop, or even judge them.
So the question then to MMA fans and to myself going into this event is this:
Is the women's segment of MMA just a blatant use of sex to help sell tickets to dirty old men or is there a separate technical value to women's fighting that I just don't understand?
The good news is there's no wrong answer.
I don't buy into the notion that the female fighters are being objectified or taken advantage of (assuming fair and equal working conditions, pay, etc.) and so there doesn't need to be a different athletic aspect of the sport for it to have merit.
What do you think?
Here's a sample of female MMA fighting. This video features Miesha "Takedown" Tate who will be in Phoenix next week vs. Sarah Kaufman, the undefeated champion.
Colleen Schneider and Liz Carmouche will tangle in the "reserve bout" in the first-ever STRIKEFORCE women's single-elimination welterweight (135 pounds) tournament at STRIKEFORCE Challengers on Friday, Aug. 13, from Dodge Theatre in Phoenix, Ariz., live on SHOWTIME®. The match will take place during the non-televised undercard.
If a winner of a completed tournament semifinal fight cannot advance because of an injury or any other reason, they will be replaced by the Schneider-Carmouche winner.
STRIKEFORCE women's welterweight contenders Miesha "Takedown" Tate, Carina "Beauty But The Beast" Damm, Hitomi "Girlfight Monster" Akano and Maiju Kujala will compete in the tournament. A draw to determine the semifinal matchups for the two-round tournament will take place at the Official Weigh-In on Thursday, Aug. 12. Each of the tournament tussles and the reserve bout are slated for three, 3-minute rounds.
The tournament winner will become the official No. 2 challenger in the STRIKEFORCE women's welterweight division (behind Marloes Coenen). On July 23 on SHOWTIME, undefeated world champion Sarah Kaufman impressively retained her STRIKEFORCE crown with a third-round "power slam" KO over Roxanne Modafferi.
Tickets for the STRIKEFORCE Challengers event are on sale at the Dodge Theatre Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, by phone at (800) 745-3000, and online at www.livenation.com and www.strikeforce.com.
Dodge Theatre doors will open at 5 p.m. local time. The first preliminary bout will begin at 5:30 p.m. and the first main card bout will begin at 8.
The SHOWTIME telecast will begin at 11 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast.)