Next Battle of the Sexes or shameless PR stunt?
This is a question that will likely be asked a lot in the wake of the Tuesday announcement that Shooto Brazil, a Brazilian MMA organization, has scheduled the first ever man vs. woman MMA fight to take place on Friday.
The fight will feature Emerson Falcao and Juliana Velasquez, who are both relatively inexperienced professional fighters.
Like every fighter, Velasquez is entering her fight confident that she can win:
"[Shooto president] Andre Pederneiras came up with the idea," Velasquez told MMAFighting.com. "He asked Team Nogueira for a female fighter and my team believes I’m ready, so I accepted the challenge. My expectations are the best. I’m well trained to get there and win."
"I’m used to training with men every day. I’m a professional judoka and I know the adrenaline of the competition, I know how to handle this."
Falcao, for his part, is hardly a world-beater, sporting an 0-1 career record. He also posted on his Facebook page earlier this month that he was injured and would not be fighting for the rest of the year, but I guess plans change.
The question remains however whether it's appropriate to pit members of the opposite sex -- both of whom possess little or no professional fighting experience -- against each other in a sport that's as brutal as MMA.
Regardless, whether the fight will even actually happen is still up for debate.
"There’s nothing in the rules that specific prohibits a man to fight a woman, but when you interpret the rules you know that both athletes must be in the same level, so there’s no way a man should be allowed to fight a woman," Osiris Maia, a member of the Brazilian Mixed Martial Arts Confederation, told MMAfighting.com.
"If you ask me if we’re allowing it to happen, I don’t think so. I think it’s a disparity. We’ll see what’s going on tomorrow at the weigh-ins."