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Team Bison trainer Mike Reilly joins 5 Oz. as columnist; stands up for female MMA in first column

Editor’s Note: Mike Reilly is the owner and head instructor of the MMA gym Team Bison, located in St. Paul, Minnesota. Team Bison is home to many of the Twin Cities’ top fighters, including EliteXC’s Brett Rogers and Kelly Kobold. Reilly has agreed to join as an occasional contributor in order to provide our readers with an inside perspective of a respected MMA trainer. Below is his first submission, in which he talks about Kobold’s upcoming fight this Saturday vs. Gina Carano during EliteXC and CBS’ “Saturday Night Fights.”

Kelly Kobold looks to defeat Gina Carano at EliteXC "Heat"

Kelly Kobold looks to defeat Gina Carano at EliteXC

On Saturday October 4, EliteXC will live up to its name as it brings the world one of the top marquee matchups that can be made in the game today. Anytime you get two top five fighters in the world in the cage you have done something special. And this is a bout that only Elite has had the courage to put together, as they are the only major national promotion willing to give females fighters their just due.

There is nothing easy about becoming a professional fighter. Real fighters make sacrifices in every part of their lives whether it be what they eat and drink or how much and when they sleep. Social lives are generally not a luxury they can afford when you have to spend your time weight lifting and running and just spending hours on conditioning, sparring, drilling, learning.

Most have to work their way up through the ranks fighting for $200 in dirty arenas in front of 700 drunken fight-crazed lunatics. Fans see the 10 seconds to 15 minutes in the cage and think that’s everything they need to see to judge a fighter?s heart, soul and personality.

Now add all that up and multiply it while having every one of your training partners be bigger, stronger and vastly smellier. For women taking their first steps into the world of MMA, it would be like the average wrestler jumping into a gorilla cage.

When Kelly Kobold first strolled into Team Bison she was 18 with no combat sports experience. Fifteen minutes after our first hand shake her nose was bleeding, her eye was swelling and she was gasping for breath. Last night getting Kelly ready for Gina Carano we rolled a bit and afterwards my nose was bleeding, my eye was swelling and I was the one gasping for breath. It made me realize just have far Kelly and women’s fighting have evolved.

I figure only one out of every ten guys that steps on my mat will last for any length of time. The crucible is simply too tough. That is how it should be. When you step into an MMA gym no one is going to give you respect; you have to earn it. In this world you have to earn everything you get, every day. For women this is multiplied. Society is not ready to accept female fighters and often even their families and friends cannot accept what they do.

To top it off, the highest level of MMA does not even acknowledge women?s fighting, as the UFC and Spike TV want women with full bras and high heels. Clinging to a outdated misogynistic view of the world that makes the Mullahs proud, they will not even entertain the idea of women fighting in the Octagon. But EliteXC, along with Showtime and CBS, has the courage to honor these amazing young women warriors. Many hardcore fans never miss an opportunity to mock Elite but this is an organization who made the breakthrough to national television. They are also developing homegrown talent and on October 4 they will pay homage to the greatness of the spirit of our sport as their spotlight shines on Kelly Kobold and Gina Carano.

I rarely make predictions about fights, but I will make one about this show. Millions might tune in Saturday attracted to Kimbo/Ken but on Sunday all anyone will be talking about will be the women fighters. When Gina and Kelly clash you will see skill, strength, and speed but most of all you will see the heart of the lioness.

  • ACK! says:

    Good article. Women’s MMA is the real deal and deserves more exposure and support, no doubt about it.

  • Bad Monkey says:

    I know I’m looking forward to this fight for sure, more so than the Kimbo/Shamrock thing.

  • Coop says:

    Awesome article! Looking forward to the ladies on Saturday!!!

  • Joseph says:

    Really nice article. Women’s MMA is great, and EliteXC has done A LOT to highlight it in the biggest stage possible.

  • jim smith says:

    I hope the girls start making out during the fight !!! maybe they could fight covered in baby oil.

  • Cash says:

    ^^ Wow how witty on controversial.

    Should be a good fight.

  • j says:

    Good article, great contributor.

  • vess says:

    Gimme a break, without Gina there is no women’s MMA.

  • Patrick says:

    I want you to tell that to Cris “Cyborg” Santos vess

  • finkrod says:

    And Tara LaRosa & Megumi Fujii. And would it be sexist of me to say that girls got nice boobs?

  • Robert says:

    Gina Carano could beat the hell out of Ken Shamrock.

  • Davey D says:

    EXC could very well be the place to be for female fighter’s if they play their card’s right. In the mean time, they just need to make good fight’s happen for both sexes in every division they have. They’ve almost got a Champion in every male divison.

    If Conviction vs. Cyborg is able to happen…again. EXC better fackin’ pull the tigger. That is their gem to showcase the women like never before if that oppertunity comes to light…again. I sure hope it does. Let’s see what Kobald has to say about it too. Maybe she’ll end up getting that shot?

  • egad81 says:

    Women belong in the kitchen or in the cage!
    I just wish there was a mandatory bikini rule… I hate seeing chicks in MMA shorts

  • darkmetal says:

    Great article, it’s nice to hear from a fellow Minnesotan;)

    I think even if Carano gets past Kelly, I think her days are numbered if she faces Cyborg.

    Any way you cut it, it will be interesting to see the outcome.

  • brutus says:

    very true

  • Venom says:

    Great article! And good luck to Kelly! She’s gonna need it to get by Crush, err……Gina! :-)

  • BoRocker says:

    I’m thinking this is gonna be a great fight. Too close to bet.

  • kikass says:

    Which is exactly why you should bet on Kobald at +450 :o)

  • KMac says:

    I’m one of the people that don’t think too highly of EliteXC in general, but in the case of Women’s MMA this article is spot on. Women’s MMA does deserve so much more coverage and respect than it currently gets and Elite is the only one moving in that direction.

    That being said, on EliteXC’s first CBS broadcast, there were widespread reports that the women’s fight between Kaitlin Young and Gina Carano was stopped not by the doctor, corner, or fighter, but that CBS did not want a woman to get busted open and bleeding in the next round (which would almost have certainly happened). While the fight was clearly becoming one sided with Carano strongly winning, this kind of double standard in men’s vs women’s fighting is not helping EliteXC’s own cause.


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