“There’s no crying in baseball!” exclaimed Tom Hanks as he portrayed Jimmy Dugan, manager of the Rockford Peaches, in the 1992 movie A League of Their Own. When it comes to women’s MMA, Invicta FC is turning into MMA’s version of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, a true league of their own.
But can that league—or in this case, promotion—truly last with stars like Ronda Rousey, Cris “Cyborg” Santos and Gina Carano currently tied to Zuffa under the Strikeforce banner? And can Strikeforce continue to have great output from their female fighters when up-and-comers Sara McMann, Shayna Baszler, Jessica Penne and Naho Sugiyama are fighting for Invicta?
The reason that we don’t have women fighting in the UFC is simply due to the perceived lack of depth, which honestly is understandable. But how can Strikeforce continue its female MMA without depth either? Honestly, it can’t. Not with the female talent diluted between Strikeforce and Invicta. The only way that women’s MMA can stay afloat for good is to use the momentum that it currently has and try to unify somehow, some way.
There already has been a fair amount of familiarity between the two promotions considering fighters such as Liz Carmouche, Marloes Coenen, Kaitlin Young, Amanda Nunes and Alexis Davis have recently fought inside both promotions’ cage.
There has been some indication that former Strikeforce bantamweight champion Miesha Tate could crossover and fight with Invicta, but that is simply speculation at this time, though Tate asserts that Strikeforce matchmaker Sean Shelby told her the possibility is not “out of the question.”
We know that Zuffa does not want to co-promote fighters based on their 2010 failed negotiations with Fedor Emelianenko and M-1, but the x-factor in this puzzle is the fact that those negotiations happened with the UFC, not with the “business as usual”-ran Strikeforce, who ultimately ended up co-promoting Emelianenko.
If Strikeforce, where the Queen’s of MMA live, were to co-promote alongside Invicta, you could not only see a boost in the women’s bantamweight division, but an overall boost in women’s MMA. Again, the problem with this scenario would be Zuffa’s non-existent history in conducting co-promotions. Instead, the organization has poached top free agents left and right from various spots based on the power it has acquired from the years of being at the top.
For the growth of women’s MMA, simply having Strikeforce pluck top free agents from neighboring promotions would do nothing for the sport—having “Cyborg” take on Hiroko Yamanaka, regardless of the no-contest as a result of performance-enhancing drugs, really doesn’t do anything as far as building up a division, whether that division exists between two promotions or not.
While ultimately it appears that even though Invicta FC is and will forever be an exclusively female promotion, the ladies will truly never have a league of their own considering the amount of talent that is spread around the various organizations. The best we can hope for at this point is for those promotions to put their collective heads together for the betterment of women’s MMA as a whole.
Photo: Jessamyn Duke at Invicta FC 2 (Jeff Vulgamore/The MMA Corner)