We’ve heard the saying since we were little kids: “Never hit a girl.” As men, the same concept applies; you simply don’t hit a woman under any circumstance.
Emerson Falcao is preparing to hit a woman, repeatedly, as hard as he can. Shooto Brazil, Brazil’s MMA organization, announced on Tuesday that it’s 45th edition (which will take place on Friday in Rio de Janeiro) will include a three-round bantamweight fight between Falcao and female MMA fighter Juliana Velazquez. It is the first male vs female fight in mixed martial arts history, and it was the idea of promoter and Shooto president Andre Pederneiras. Falcao is 0-1 in his MMA career, losing by first round submission last April. Velazquez trains at Team Nogueira and is making her MMA debut.
While female MMA fighters are some of the toughest people on the planet and Fox Sports has been a trailblazer in showing women’s UFC fights, this male vs female fight is even worse of an idea than Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro doing “Grudge Match.” A fight in the octagon between members of the opposite sex has definitely generated some buzz for Shooto Brazil- which I hadn’t even heard of before this story- and for the two fighters (who I hadn’t heard of either), but this is bad publicity. Going through with this fight would be an awful idea for everyone involved, and the aftermath will be brutal.
First of all, why is Emerson Falcao going through with this fight? It’s a no-win situation for him. If he wins, it was expected because he fought a woman. If he loses, his career is over because he lost to a woman. Either way, he looks like a moron for doing it because he’s willing to go into the octagon and fight a girl even though he’s 99% sure he’s going to beat her down and leave her with a bloody face.
Second of all, why is Juliana Velazquez choosing to go through with this fight? While she is courageous for not backing down to a challenge and probably wants to show she can hang in there with a man, she’s simply overmatched and is putting her life and career at risk. Why risk a career-ending injury against a male fighter when you can fight another female with your own strength and potentially win the match? This is no Billy Jean King vs Bobby Riggs tennis match, Falcao isn’t going to lose on purpose and this is a full-contact sport. There’s not a lot to gain, but there’s a whole lot to lose by going against him.
Why is Andre Pederneiras, president of Shooto Brazil, actually going through with this silly, silly idea? While no rule states that a man cannot fight a woman, that is basically an unwritten rule; no one wrote the rule in there because no one thought someone would be so ignorant to even stage a fight like this. Fighters of all leagues and federations have to have to fight equal opponents to make it a sanctioned match; that’s why weight classes were created in the first place. A heavyweight cannot fight a flyweight because they have different amounts of strength. Consequently, a male bantamweight has more strength than a female bantamweight, even if they are the same weight class. This is just as unequal as a lightweight fighting a flyweight, yet somehow Pederneiras and his people are oblivious to this in the face of the almighty dollar. This will make money for their federation, so they have yet to come to their senses and stop the fight before it starts. What message are they sending when Falcao and Velazquez step into the ring? While they may think it’s no big deal, organizations against domestic violence may think differently. Non-violence groups may also think differently. This has the potential to offend a lot of people, more than Pederneiras knows.
In closing, the Shooto Brazil organization should forget the idea of a man vs woman fight on Friday night. It can only end one way: controversially. Let Velazquez fight against another female, and let Falcao fight another man, the way it should be. Leave mixed-gender competition to non-contact sports and keep it out of the octagon.