I interview former Strikeforce women's bantam weight champion Marloes Coenen .Who will be fighting for BlackEye promotion.I interview about a history and future of female MMA, how she thinks about a being a pro with getting money and how to make recognition for female MMA.
- I was reminded of the ReMix World Cup from 2000 when you won your Strikeforce title last year. It was the first big tournament in women’s MMA history, and after ten years of ups and downs in your career, you won the Strikeforce belt. Women’s MMA began as a niche interest, but it has come a long way. What are your thoughts on that? Is it nostalgic to think back to the ReMix tournament?
Yes! It definitely is. About a week prior to the tournament, I visited Japan for the first time in my life and had my first professional fight (after only two amateur Shooto fights). It was unexpected. I was busy with a different life and just started University in Rotterdam. Looking back at it, it feels to me that the universe was telling me something. Showing me a different life path.
I never thought of myself as a fighter. That was not how I was brought up. My mom is a strong person and the mother of my father is an truly brave and unique woman…but fighting? That was sooooo not an option for a girl like me! And now 10 years later I'm a professional cage fighter…
- You were released from Strikeforce this year and could not get a new contract. My understanding is that you could not agree on financial terms. Strikeforce paid some female fighters better than Zuffa pays some of its male champions. As someone who is seen as a leader in women’s MMA, what is your opinion of the current situation for women who are trying to make a living as professional fighters? What can be done to make things better?
We need good role models to attract a big audience. I firmly believe we can empower, intrigue and entertain so many women. And if they tune in to watch us fight, the big sponsors will follow. Maybe we need a female-only organisation and broadcast that on TV. L'Oreal would more likely sponsor that than a UFC-only show with heavy metal music and a rough and tough male vibe.
- Female fighters in MMA do not receive the same amount of recognition that male fighters do. What needs to change in order to increase the popularity of women’s MMA? Better athletes or more advertising? Is it better to have recognition for the sport (of MMA) or as an individual?
Gina Carano proved that a single woman can do a lot for the sport. Like I said above, good role models are needed. A variety of girls. What I see now is that a lot of girls are trying to be the pin-up girl. Some take it, in my opinion, too far, though it does work with the male audience. Then on the other end, others don't understand at all that they are not just an athlete. It's hard to find the right mixture.
A second thing that can enhance our recognition is when famous male fighters publicly endorse females in MMA. Because their fans will listen to them, and in that way the audience can be educated. If a Nick Diaz commentates on a female fight for instance, and tells why it's a good fight, a lot of people will be influenced positively. I know, from talking with a lot of famous male fighters, that they are positive about women in the sport. They respect us big time because they know what it takes. Only be a bit more vocal about it, please. ;)
- Until recently, women often did not compete with the same rules as male fighters do and it was difficult to fight the best opponents without changing weight classes. Now the talent pool is growing and the rules are usually the same. You have fought under many different rules in your career. What is your opinion on the current rule set in MMA? What improvements could be made?
Keep it the same. We need to get the same amount of respect as the guys so we should fight under the same rules. The term 'WMMA' annoys the hell out of me. When I started fighting it was called MMA, and now since a year or two I'm doing WMMA? Nothing has changed on my side. I use the same techniques, the same round times and fight under the same rules. The added 'W' is only there to separate…but why? It has no function whatsoever.
- You are known for finishing fights with submissions from the bottom. This can sometimes be risky, though, depending on the rules and if fighters can strike to the face on the ground. Especially with elbows. Do you have particular strategies when trying for submissions from the bottom? Also, do you think that the Unified Rules make it so that you need to try to have top position more often?
It's quite simple…there are a lot of techniques that you can do from the bottom. Of course I prefer the top position, but you should be able to finish a fight from every position.
- You recently appeared on a sports variety show on Japanese TV and also attended a Shooto event as well. How was your latest trip to Japan? What else did you do besides the TV appearance and Shooto?
I LOOOOOOOOOOVE Japan! I missed it so much!! We went to DREAM & Shooto and ate at my Japanese brother Taro Obata’s. His wife Chica made Okonomiyaki for me and Kawasaki-san joined us for dinner, too. I was lucky to meet Takashima-san, who's my Japanese father, at the Shooto show. And Shinobu was there, too. She's my Japanese sister. Believe it or not!
Of course I did some shopping! Gifts…I was lucky to buy my Shu Uemura makeup at the airport. And I ate all my favourite Japanese food: sushi (I tried whale, too), tako yaki, Imagawayaki and Okonomiyaki. My trainer Martijn wants to eat Korean BBQ all the time so we eat that a lot, too! Then I had to fly back to Kansas, where I was staying.
- This summer, you announced that you would be fighting for BlackEye Promotions. Who are some fighters that you hope to face in the United States in 2012?
There are a lot of great female athletes in the States that I am interested in facing in 2012. Two rematches are on my list: Tate and Cyborg!
- Please leave a message for the fans, both the English-speaking and in Japan, about your fighting career and future.
I would like to thank the Japanese people for the life-changing experience that your country gave me. I look forward to training hard and getting into the cage soon! If you are interested in my journey, please follow me on Twitter @marloescoenen. And don't forget to vote for me in the Fighters Only Awards (I'm nominated 2x!)! The voting will end soon! Stay strong! :)
Marloes Coenen Official Facebook
Big thanks to Robert Sargent (MMA Rising) for interview arrangement and English editing.