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Tuff-N-Uff:

All female MMA show provides plenty of questions and answers

Local fighter, Web site editor discuss female role in a male-dominated sport

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Allison Duck

Gabriella Lakoczky, right, gets taped up by trainer Shawn Tompkins before a recent practice at Xtreme Couture. The native of Sweden will be making her MMA debut tonight at Tuff-N-Uff’s first-ever all-female card at the Orleans.

Editor of female fight site talks about women in MMA

    Erin Webb is the news manager for fightergirls.com, a Web site dedicated to highlighting professional and amateur MMA fighters. She offered her opinions on the state of women in MMA:

    Q: What do you think of amateur events like Tuff-N-Uff?

    A: “It's kind of a 'love/hate' relationship for me. Love: I think amateur shows are an awesome opportunity to help build the sport, in particular with women as it is much more difficult for women to get fights at a pro level and on the bigger shows. It also gives fighters a chance to get ring/cage experience at a much smaller level.

    Hate: I get frustrated going to amateur shows and seeing fighters getting in the ring/cage at too early of a stage of their training. Especially as women are still trying to establish themselves as legit fighters in the MMA world, I'd like for women fighters to represent us well.

    I think MMA is a popular sport right now and everyone is a fighter so people often times take a fight when they are not at all prepared or ready yet. For the spectators that may be seeing MMA for the first time live, this represents our sport poorly.”

    Q: WAMMA just released rankings, what do you think of them?

    A: “I think rankings are somewhat difficult and I'm sure everyone has a particular opinion regarding them. No one's going to be happy.”

    Q: Did you expect MMA to grow in popularity the way it has?

    A: “Absolutely, the timing was perfect for MMA as a growing sport. Boxing was beginning to lose its luster and kickboxing/Muay Thai (while it's one of my favorites!) never made it as well as it had in Europe and Asia. I think the U.S. as well as the world was very intrigued when MMA entered the scene and to see the way it has developed over the years is amazing. Fighters are now more well-versed in their skills; stand-up, wrestling, jiu-jitsu, etc.”

    Q: What would you say to critics that say MMA is too violent?

    A: “I think the critics that consider MMA too violent are also the ones who don't understand the sport. The sanctioning organizations have done a great job of keeping the sport safe and well controlled.”

    Q: What is the best way to get involved?

    A: “There are millions of ways to be involved. On fightergirls.com alone, we've got thousands on our forum discussing women's MMA and how to improve the sport and we've got writers covering events and conducting interviews.”

    Q: Are women fighters supposed to be masculine or are they supposed to show their feminine side?

    A: “Women fighters are who they are. In my personal opinion, it is much easier to market a fighter that also has a feminine side to balance out the 'toughness,' but skill takes precedence over all of this of course.”

    — Jennifer Miller, LV Sun correspondent

It’s ladies night at The Orleans Arena. This time it’s not pink cosmos and salon giveaways, but rather blood, sweat and bruises. The amateur mixed martial arts organization, Tuff-N-Uff, is marking the 15th anniversary of its first event with the first all-female fight card, aptly titled “Tuff Girls” tonight at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 at the door.

“With more exposure, other organizations will be able to give females an outlet, which I think they rightfully deserve,” said Tuff-N-Uff President Barry Meyer.

Several local fighters are on the card including 120-pound fighter Gabriella Lakoczky, who will be making her amateur debut.

Lakoczky, a native of Sweden, has been a personal trainer for years, which means she was already in great shape before she even started thinking about competitive fighting. In a Q&A session, Lakoczky said she was excited to be making her amateur debut on the eve of the UFC’s historic 100th event and talked about her strengths and what it’s like for females to fight in a male-dominated sport.

Q: What are the weight classes for women in MMA and what class are you in?

A: “It varies from 105 and 170 pounds. I will be fighting at 120 pounds, and this is my amateur debut.”

Q: How long have you been training?

A: “Off and on for a while since I am in the gym all the time for my work as a personal trainer. That’s how I stay in shape, but I have been doing it since January. And I have been doing karate and a little boxing prior to that in Sweden where I grew up. I came to America about 15 years ago and now I’m a personal trainer at Anytime Fitness in Green Valley.”

Q: Do you train primarily at Xtreme Couture?

A: “Yes, my coach is Shawn Tompkins. He’s my main coach, and I take classes from Joey Varner and whoever else is teaching at the time.”

Q: Are you currently working toward gaining a black belt in any one of the martial arts disciplines or are you just trying to get more well rounded?

A: “I’m just training hard in every discipline and seeing where I can go. I started out with judo but I’m pretty well rounded. I just like to get in the ring and do whatever comes naturally.”

Q: Since this is your first fight, what are the feelings going into this one?

A: “Well, I’ve been in a real fight before but maybe not this scenario. It’s good, you know, you’re nervous, excited. I’ve just been training hard. It’s my opponent’s debut, too.”

Q: “How did you first get involved in such a violent sport?”

A: “I don’t know? Craziness? It’s always been interesting to me and it’s important to show that women can fight and box and kickbox and do everything else that men do, and I think that is something that I have always wanted to do and now I have the opportunity. This is such a great place to train out of and I’m fortunate to be here.”

Q: Did you used to beat up all the guys on the playground?

A: “I was the athletic one. I’ve always trained and been in the gym. I did track for a long time and I did gymnastics.”

Q: What is it like having to get so physical with guys when training? I imagine they’re putting their hands in some interesting places when you grapple.

A: “I train primarily with men but they’re a couple of women who train in here. You get used to it. Everybody wants to be good at what they do and be the best so if you train with the best, that’s how you get better. The guys in here are the best so you just put those things aside and go.”

Q: What do you think about an all-female MMA card? Do you think it’s sexist in any way to group them that way? Would you rather be on a mixed card?

A: “No, I think it’s great. Mix it up; do it separate; I think it’s awesome. Right before the UFC 100, it brings a lot of attention to us who want to show what we’ve got.”

Q: What do you think are your biggest strengths as a female fighter?

A: “I always look at all the guys and I think man, I want to hit that hard, to kick that hard and that’s what irritates me, because we are different. We are strong in our own way. Training with all men, you set yourself up for higher standards. We tend to be technical a little more but it all varies from person to person.”

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