Commentary: The Curious Case of Kaitlin Young

February 27, 2009


With Strikeforce’s recent asset purchase from ProElite, things seemed to be looking up for noted women’s MMA fighter Kaitlin Young. After a tough loss to Gina Carano on the initial EliteXC on CBS card, Young had been held in limbo waiting for another bout. The collapse of EliteXC further delayed her getting back in the cage. With Strikeforce’s purchase of contracts and signing of Gina Carano, things were looking up. Unfortunately, Young was not among those moving over with the new Strikeforce deal. Tom Hamlin with MMAWeekly talked with Strikeforce brass about the decision not to pick up Young:

Mendez also released a list of female talent acquired in the purchase of ProElite assets.

Confirmed to fight in Strikeforce:
-Sarah Kaufman
-Shayna Baszler
-Debi Purcell
-Jan Finney
-Melanie Lacroix
-Katrina Alendal

Conspicuously missing was Kaitlin Young, the Minnesota Mixed Martial Arts prospect, who was defeated by Carano in a controversial stoppage at EliteXC’s first CBS televised event. Mendez said Strikeforce opted not to acquire Young out of a desire to develop lesser-seen fighters.

“We want to build up new talent,” he said.

The women listed above share the common trait that none have faced Carano before. The decision not to pick up Young as well as Kelly Kobald for Strikeforce denotes a disturbing trend. A loss at the hands of Carano looks to be a death sentence of sorts for women hoping to compete on the biggest stage possible. Strikeforce is that stage at this point. Strikeforce seems to be in the Gina Carano business at this point, much more so than the women’s MMA business. And at this point that is the right monetary decision, but I can’t say it is the right decision for the sport. But Strikeforce isn’t alone in this respect.

The hubris of billionaire’s and their companies often lead them to make statements and latch on to catchphrases. Mr White will go on the Carmichael Dave Show and state that “we are mixed martial arts”, but such a boast brings with it a responsibility beyond just the $$$ of the sport. Dana has said that there aren’t enough top level stars in women’s MMA, but if that is true, and he truly is going to represent his company as the be all and end all of MMA, then they would make the investments to make the situation viable, much like they have with MMA legalization and investing in international expansion.

On the other hand you have companies like HDNet that tout themselves as “Your Home For MMA”, but it doesn’t seem that it is a home for wayward girls, er, women or the sport of women’s MMA. Women’s MMA is very much an orphan at this point. Through their leverage with fight promoters they have deals with and the reach of their television network, they have the ability to make a meaningful difference in the visibility and growth of women’s MMA. Unfortunately the will seems lacking in making such a commitment to the female version of the sport. They need to work with promoter’s to get one or two women’s fights on the card’s they televise for HDNet. If they are on the undercard, tape them and pull them together in a themed show, like they do with the KO’s, submissions, or best of Dream series. It isn’t a situation were they would even need to spend much money to do this, just have a will to make the effort.

I’ve been called an idealist before, but idealism is comforting when reality is depressing. An ideal situation would be one of the parties above (Strikeforce, HDNet, UFC) stepping up to the plate.

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