I'm not suggesting the fronting won't work, but Strikeforce is fronting here:
According to a release circulated by Strikeforce and highlighted by Fanhouse, the promotion is set to dangle some mainstream media bait by hosting a press conference for the Aug. 15 Gina Carano/Cristiane Santos fight at Madison Square Gardenís WaMu Theater on July 14.
Considering that it wouldnít take roping off a city block to house MMA media, itís clear Strikeforce is counting on a surplus of mass press attention for what has easily become the highest-profile womenís MMA bout to date. Securing the WaMu Theater lobby may not be practically necessary, but it is an interesting bit of status posturing, particularly for an industry that doesnít see a lot of PR stunt work outside of the UFC. (Both Carano and Santos will have a public demo/workout on 8th Avenue and 33rd Street, which is likely going to crane a lot of necks passing by in walkthrough traffic.)
Look, I certainly hope this fight meets the expectations of those who suggest Carano can single-handidly outdraw the entire UFC 100 event in terms of PR or attention. Her success as well as that of her promoter would be good for their goose and MMA's gander. But let's also keep in mind what's driving the popularity of Carano - and this fight in particular - is a compelling human interest component that has dubious utility for MMA's or Carano's long term viability as a draw. While the attention being paid toward Carano for her stark challenge of gender roles can sway attitudes of skeptics or the concerned to the point that MMA is more palatable than they once assumed, we also must examine the motivations for the media coverage.
It is well documented both traditional and new media alike are prone to exploring the issue of females who not only challenge gender roles with ability or aplomb, but also simultaneously support or maintain those traditional gender constructs as they turn conventional wisdom on its head. I do not fault Strikeforce nor Carano for this reality nor for using it to their advantage. I also, again, do not see this as something harmful for the sport, but I also don't think this is a watershed moment for the larger sport of women's MMA. I have some suspicion about how long Strikeforce can milk this to keep the Carano hype train moving. For now, it's an asset and should be welcomed as a means of maximizing the amount of media coverage available. But to borrow from Ayn Rand (not an endorsement of her views, mind you), we also need to check the premises of what's going on here in the press. A significant portion of the hype behind Carano and this fight has little to do with MMA at all (yes, MMA as something male dominated or only for men is a machine for Carano to rage against, but that demonstrates little about MMA's intrinsic value here). If converts can be created in the process, so be it. But how long the engine of human interest can be used to promote what is ultimately a static person over the long run is quite another.