Commentary

Invicta women deliver on all fronts

Originally Published: April 30, 2012
By Josh Gross | ESPN.com

Marloes Coenen reminded me last week that there's no such thing as "women's mixed martial arts."

That might seem odd that considering a fight card comprised solely of women took place Saturday in Kansas City, Kan.; yet Coenen, who headlined the debut of Invicta Fighting Championships, knows of what she speaks.

"We do exactly the same thing as the men," said the 31-year-old Dutch fighter. "We fight the same rules, same rounds. By calling it 'women's MMA' it separates us from like real MMA. So I tell the journalists, please don't call it 'women's MMA' because it makes it look less than what we are."

She's right, you know. In the cage, women aren't doing anything differently than their male counterparts. I realized just that June 14, 2000. As it happened, the first fight card I covered was International Fighting Championship's Warrior Challenge 8 in Friant, Calif., for the pioneering MMA periodical "Full Contact Fighter."

Offered as the co-main event on a card featuring Sean Pierson, Paul Buentello, Gil Castillo, Jason Von Flue and other known or soon-to-be known commodities, Lisa Bjornstad and KC Nolan were ahead of their time.

Bjornstad finished Nolan in 121 seconds, which was long enough to move beyond any sense of discomfort over seeing women beating each other up in a cage. Though the bout was short, it was nonetheless clear to me that women possessed skill and tenacity equal to men. (Actually, from what I've seen over the years, women tend to fight harder.) So it was no surprise here that Invicta FC's first event produced a solid night of fights.

That's the constant in this equation. Women deliver entertaining bouts when given the chance. If Invicta has anything to say about it, women who want to fight won't have a difficult time finding one.

While Strikeforce is still in the business of promoting women, it's only doing so in one weight division. Invicta, meanwhile, offered three contests in the "atom weight" division alone. From 105 pounds to 145 (technically 149.5 since Randy Miller missed weight), there will be slots to fill as the year plays out.

Invicta already revealed the main event for its second offering July 28, as bantamweight Sara McMann fights Shayna Baszler.

But before we attempt to peer too far off into the future, let's take one last look at Saturday's bouts.