This is a bad idea. In every way possible, this is a bad idea. Bol Noticias, reports that Shooto 45 will feature a man vs. woman fight between Emerson Falcao of Nova Uniao and Juliana Velasquez of Team Noguiera. Before I get into this right away, there is a very real possiblity that this fight will not happen and this is just a publicity stunt. Emerson Falcao posted via Facebook on December 3, that he was injured and would not be competing in kickboxing again until next year. He has made no mention of this fight whatsoever. It may mean that this will be a Fedor vs. Aoki-esque exhibition or, perhaps, that he’s not especially eager to promote this fight or that it’s just not happening at all.
At this point I have to hope for the last one because there’s absolutely no good that can come of this idea. Falcao, while 0-1 in MMA is a reasonably experienced kickboxer and muay thai fighter who will be fighting Velasquez at bantamweight in her professional debut. Even as a fairly dedicated feminist the idea of this fight makes me intensely uncomfortable.
If Velasquez wins (and I don’t doubt that there are plenty of women in the world that can beat up plenty of men in the world) what’s the upside? What does MMA as a community establish? I can’t see any way forward that starts regularly putting on professional fights between men and women. For a sport that many consider to be pure spectacle and bloodsport the backlash could be crippling.
For the fighters themselves, no doubt Velasquez would get some brief praise for the win, but no one fight (especially on the regional circuit) is a true proving point of a career. Claudia Gadelha has already beat up several men in exhibition bouts, but it’s been her run of victories over other women that have gained her the current notoriety in her own division. Ediane Gomes has a pro win over a man only known as “Carlos,” and has little notoriety even in the sport, because of it.
And, of course, for Falcao there is really nothing to be gained in this. Even taking the higher road of gender equality I can’t imagine this is going to be a great source of personal pride. As an 0-1 fighter facing a 0-0 fighter there aren’t any bragging rights to be gained. The loser can be dismissed as under-prepared as easily as the winner can be dismissed as having been gifted an easy fight.
That’s not to say I see a situation where this could work better (there really isn’t one), but the fact that both fighters are incredibly green in MMA adds to the feeling that neither of them has an actual upside for this fight beyond short term notoriety. Shooto president Andre Pederneiras (who is also the head trainer at Nova Uniao) told Combate that the fight may have some rule modifications, but will be contested within the Unified rules of MMA. And all told it really looks like he’s trying to drum up some press for a card that otherwise isn’t getting any. If that’s the case I suppose he’s succeeded, but it’s a pretty ugly form of success.
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