Exclusive: 2010 Women's Grand Prix AnnouncedEnding months of speculation, MMARising.com can exclusively report that Strikeforce 135- and 145-pound women’s tournaments are no longer set to take place in early 2010. As the promotion continues to add to its expanding roster, plans for the women’s division have changed.

Instead, the Oklahoma-based Freestyle Cage Fighting promotion will showcase eight of the top 135-pound female fighters in the world in the 2010 FCF Women’s Bantamweight Grand Prix. The three-round tournament begins in Shawnee, Oklahoma at FCF 39 on January 30, 2010.

In early summer, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker announced plans to feature eight-woman tournaments in both the 135-pound and 145-pound divisions. Top stars Gina “Conviction” Carano and Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos clashed to determine the promotion’s first 145-pound champion in August, with Santos defeating Carano by first-round TKO. Carano then chose to take a leave of absence from the sport in order to pursue an acting career.

Billed as “The Face of Women’s MMA,” considerable pressure was placed on Carano’s shoulders by both Strikeforce and the now-defunct EliteXC promotion. Following Carano’s loss to Santos, speculation and questions arose as to whether the proposed tournaments would go ahead as planned. Less than one month later, Strikeforce announced that it was postponing its women’s tournaments.

MMARising.com spoke exclusively with representatives from Strikeforce prior to the third edition of its Challengers Series in Tulsa, Oklahoma on September 25th. During this time, American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) trainer Bob Cook, who maintains a prominent advisory role in the promotion’s matchmaking, expressed limited interest in bringing in additional female combatants and described the situation surrounding the women’s division as being up in the air.

Citing a lack of card space and insufficient room on the promotion’s roster to warrant the many additional signings required, Cook confirmed that women’s tournaments were not in the company’s immediate plans. He further stated that Strikeforce would not be focusing on signing new additions to the lighter weight classes, as the primary goal was to promote the existing female fighters on the roster.

Rich Chou, who was announced as the official matchmaker for Strikeforce just over two weeks later, did not comment on the women’s tournaments during the meeting. Strikeforce representative Shannon Knapp, a major proponent of women’s MMA, suggested that tournaments be held in another promotion while Strikeforce determined its course of action for the year ahead.

Unlike in the 115-pound and 135-pound weight classes, the 145-pound women’s division has fewer than half a dozen top contenders and an equal number of inexperienced but rising stars. While the other divisions possess considerable depth, the 145-pound division is confined almost entirely to fighters who are already under contract to Strikeforce. As a result, a 145-pound tournament with eight participants would not be feasible at this time.

While Strikeforce continues to bolster its ranks with an extremely impressive series of signings in the men’s division, many of its remaining female stars are left waiting to see when they will compete for the promotion again. No fewer than five 135-pound female fighters were scheduled to compete in December or January, but changes to event cards have left some unsure of when they will next fight inside a Strikeforce cage.


At the same time, Freestyle Cage Fighting, which has quickly risen to become one of the top promotions to watch for in the United States, was looking for ways to increase its already significant support of women’s MMA. Featuring women’s champions in three different weight classes, including Strikeforce contender Miesha “Takedown” Tate, the promotion has put on 37 events to date and has prominently featured women on many of their cards.

FCF owner Ken Nair and matchmaker Dorothy Faas enthusiastically jumped at the opportunity to hold a women’s tournament in their promotion. MMARising.com, in continued support of women’s MMA, has offered advisement in crafting a tournament. Dubbed the 2010 FCF Women’s Bantamweight Grand Prix, it will showcase eight of the best 135-pound female fighters in the world. The winner of the tournament will receive a guaranteed spot on the Strikeforce roster and may challenge for a title.

Brackets for the tournament are in the final stages of completion and will be officially announced in the coming weeks. Among those participating are EliteXC veterans Kaitlin Young, Shayna “The Queen of Spades” Baszler and Jennifer “Rosebud” Tate, as well as former #2-ranked bantamweight Amanda Buckner. All fighters will be matched up against suitable opponents in order to avoid mismatches that have become somewhat common in the women’s division over the past year.

The opening round will take place on January 30th, with the semi-finals on March 27th and the tournament final to be contested on June 12th. All three events will be held at the FireLake Grand Casino in Shawnee, Oklahoma. FCF aims to feature the entire tournament on HDNet and Shannon Knapp is assisting with this process. Fans of the women’s division can contact HDNet to voice support for the tournament’s airing on the network. A live Internet stream is also under consideration.

Freestyle Cage Fighting is firmly committed to promoting and developing women’s MMA and may run all-female shows in the second half of 2010. Additionally, pending the outcome of the 135-pound venture, a flyweight (115-pound) women’s tournament may also be a possibility. Female fighters who have had difficulty in finding fights during the past 18 months will now have opportunities available to them that were not there before.

Further announcements and updates will be made available in the coming weeks. Those interested in sponsoring fighters involved in the tournament – or the tournament events themselves – may contact FCF directly or through this website. Similarly, female fighters who are interested in being a part of FCF events in 2010 should do the same.

MMARising.com is pleased to support this historic tournament, which will showcase many of the most talented female fighters in mixed martial arts.

  1. proud of you rob, this is exciting news for sure.

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  3. […] Women's Grand Prix Just Announced Exclusive: 2010 Women’s Grand Prix Announced | MMARising.com Strikeforce is no longer planning women's tournaments in 2010 and probably won't ever have any, […]

  4. Cool news, awesome that you’re so involved in a fairly historical event for the sport. Fingers crossed that it all works out.

  5. Sarah Kaufman for the win!

  6. This is fantastic news!!!

  7. […] doing a Women's Grand Prix?? I think that's a rumor that I started. It seems less likely after this announcement, but I think the signs still point to it as a possibility. DREAM having Kim Couture under contract, […]