In case you were wondering, female mixed martial arts is still very much alive and kicking. The latest installment of the Invicta Fighting Championships is this Saturday night, and in August, Strikeforce returns to Showtime with a main event that will feature champ Ronda Rousey attempting to remove challenger Sarah Kaufman’s arm in the most painful, non-surgical way possible. Yep. Wimmins. They be fightin’. So in the spirit of all this impending violence perpetrated by the fairer sex, Cagewriter tracked down 125-pound female fighter Munah Holland, who knocked out Strikeforce veteran Carina Damm two weeks ago at Matrix Fights (a regional show in Philadelphia) to get her perspective on things. She is, after all, on the front lines.
Things to know about Holland: she’s a product of the Tiger Schulmann MMA system, and manages one of the organization’s gyms in New Jersey. In 2004, she won the prestigious Golden Gloves amateur boxing tournament, transitioned to professional fighting with Chuck Norris’ ill-fated kickboxing promotion the World Combat League, and now fights in the cage, shimmying out of the clutches of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belts and feeding them knuckles until they fall. In her MMA debut, Holland brutalized Kim Couture for three rounds; more recently, she’s KO’d top New England fighter Marianna Kheyfets in Bellator and put away Damm.
That’s Holland. Here’s what she had to say about some of her fellow fighters:
On Strikeforce bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey - “Ronda is, I would say, this deliciously deadly, amazing person. She has something that, when I watch her fight, is incredibly contained, and at the same time, explosive. It’s really fun to watch, and her ground game is sick. She is definitely a force to be reckoned with, no matter her opponent in front of her. I can’t wait for the upcoming fight between her and Sarah Kaufman — I think that’s going to be a great fight.”
On top Strikeforce bantamweight challenger and former champ Sarah Kaufman - “I’ve watched Sarah for a long time, because as a female martial artist, she was one of the girls I knew about first. She’s got really, really powerful hands — like, lead in her hands. She’s very dangerous. She’s constantly evolving… got a lot of heart, and like Ronda, she’s a force to be reckoned with. And Sarah has some very good wrestling, so it’s going to be interesting, because if Sarah can maintain her wrestling defense and use her hands and use her range, it could be a really interesting fight. If it stays standing, Sarah can do some damage with her hands. We haven’t really seen Ronda’s chin, we don’t know how much damage it can take.” Her prediction for the August 18 Strikeforce title fight? “If it stays standing, Sarah’s going to have the advantage. If it goes to the ground, my gut says Ronda.”
On former Strikeforce bantamweight champ Miesha Tate - “I love Miesha. I once said this out loud and people heard me, but if you have a bum that looks like Miesha’s, you’ve got to plaster it everywhere. She’s beautiful, she’s tough as nails. And that fight with Ronda, that was sick.”
On former Strikeforce featherweight champ Gina Carano - “Gina, I think, has done a world of good for female fighting in general. She’s chosen her own path, and gone the way she feels where her future lies. You have to do whatever it is you have to do in this world to have a life and a good living, but I thank her for exposing female martial artists to the world, and making it important for people to watch and making it exciting for people to watch, and proving that, regardless of whether it’s females or males, it’s just a great sport to watch. She proved that the numbers can be there, that the seats can be filled for female mixed martial artists just as they can for men.”
On former Strikeforce featherweight champ Cris “Cyborg” Santos — “Cyborg would scare most grown men away in the cage. The first time I saw Cris Cyborg, I was like, ‘Uh, this woman is just frightening.’ And frightening in a good way. What a beast. What a beast of mass proportions. This girl… frightening strength, amazing ability coming from Chute Boxe, can really take so much. She’s just like a pitbull. She’s just going to keep on coming and keep on coming.”
On female MMA pioneer Tara LaRosa - “Long before Gina or Cyborg came into the picture, you’d hear about Tara just making her way through one person after another in the circuit — especially in New Jersey, where she’s got a lot of fans. For me, she was definitely an inspiration. We can do it, we can do it really well and with a lot of class.”
On hoping to fight in the UFC one day - “Oh yeah. Some little girls want to grow up and wear pink slippers, but for me, the thought of being in the UFC… I hope it gets to that point for women, I hope it gets to that point in my MMA lifetime. We can only hope for that. Who wouldn’t want to be in that arena?”
On Dana White reconsidering his stance on not allowing women in the UFC’s Octagon - “I don’t know any woman who wouldn’t want to see women in the UFC, and I hope Dana White considers that at some point. Because we’ll bring the crowds, we’ll fill the seats, and people really enjoy watching it.”