The lesson of Kim Couture's first professional MMA fight has nothing to do with her gender. Yet, even those who would protect the value and place of women's MMA and battle against double standards seem to think Couture's gametes are the crux of the matter. To wit:
It isn’t as if Kim Couture was matched up with someone out of her league. According to Sherdog, that was Kim Rose’s first pro fight, just as it was Couture’s. And it isn’t about the fact that she continued after being hurt, either.
Couture put forth a valiant effort even after being drilled early on. She even dished out some punishment of her own, despite Cofield’s characterization of the fight as egregiously one-sided. If she was unable to continue, she could have quit. She had a cornerman with plenty of experience in this business, so one has to assume that he knew what he was looking at.
It’s also not about how long the rounds lasted. If we grant that women can fight, there’s no sense in saying they can’t fight for as long as men can. Couture’s injury likely happened from the very first punch of the fight, so making the rounds two minutes shorter wouldn’t have made a significant difference.
If we take away all those red herrings, what we’re left with is an objection to seeing women engaged in violent pursuits. To some extent, I can understand that. As much as I believe that men and women are equals, it’s still more difficult for me to see a woman get hurt than a man. But you know something? That’s my problem, not theirs.
Now, I'm not picking on Ben. He makes a compelling argument here that needs to be addressed even if it misses the issue at hand.
The problem, ultimately, with the Kim Couture fight wasn't gender, it was competency. Unequivocally, I say Kim Couture is not even remotely ready for professional mixed martial arts competition. Period. Anyone who says otherwise needs to seriously reevaluate their ability to distinguish amateur from professional.
I cannot believe people who purport to watch MMA can honestly watch that fight without immediately recognizing the lack of technical skill Couture demonstrated. While her durability and drive are second to no one's, her ability to fight effectively is borderline ineffectual.
Yes, she landed a couple of takedowns. And yes, she was hurt in the opening moments of the bout yet managed to soldier through to the end. But that doesn't prove anything except that she has an unreal ability to absorb a world class thrashing and that she has the takedown ability of someone who has been training with world class wrestlers for less than a year.
Some have suggested this matter centers around double standards. That women are not being extended the same opportunity to fight as men. If we're talking about double standards, let's talk about double standards. How about the double standard that some in the MMA media have the audacity to attack Kimbo Slice for not having the technical acumen to compete as a professional yet we give Couture a pass because she takes a better punch? How about the standard that we expect men (except for those with accomplished athletic backgrounds in similar athletic endeavors to MMA) to work their way through a few successful amateur matches before turning pro, yet we let Couture take one smoker - not even an amateur rules match!!! - where she was handled before she's granted a professional license to compete in professional MMA matches. That's not only a double standard, that's downright dangerous. Licensing is granted to those professionals who have proven they are prepared to deal with the rigors of professional competition. That is ultimately a medical concern with serious implications and repercussions.
I don't want to resort to the often hackneyed argument of "people who train vs. people who don't", but I would like to draw upon my experience in training. I can say with complete confidence that while she did have a couple of decent takedowns, she didn't know how to pass guard either from half and especially not full guard; she didn't know how to properly use underhooks on the ground or shoulder pressure to keep opponents on the mat; she didn't demonstrate professional level ability to prevent her opponent from shrimping to guard; she didn't display professional level footwork on defensive blocking or defensive circling maneuvers; and she pushed her punches (there were zero combinations) and it wasn't hard to notice they had very little steam on them.
To say her opponent was as much as a neophyte on paper only reinforces the argument: her opponent didn't look too savvy on the ground either often laying on her back in side control without any attempt to use technique to amend the situation. If you can't continually pass guard of someone with that level of ability, there are some serious questions you better ask yourself. And on the feet, her opponent appeared much more capable in terms of punching power, combinations, evasion, movement and ring savvy.
Lastly, if the response is that Couture wasn't able to maximize her potential because she was hurt early and that set the tone, I sympathize. But that's all the more reason to stop the fight in that circumstance. Sometimes a fighter's toughness is their own worst enemy. But more importantly, we also can't say because she weathered the storm that therefore the storm wasn't in and of itself too much. Please. The beating Kuniyoshi Hironaka took at the hands of Thiago Alves wasn't a tenth of what Couture took and the referee - and the MMA blogosphere - didn't seem to have any issue with that stoppage - a stoppage that took place while Hironaka was perfectly conscious and on his feet. Apparently the referee's decision, implicitly sanctioned by the MMA blogosphere, was justified in that instance. If so, then when did the ceiling of acceptable punishment get raised? It seems to me it wasn't. What did appear to happen, however, is that the concern to not be sexist when females are involved in difficult situations has actually impaired judgment overall.
Kim Couture doesn't need a lesson from anyone on matters of heart. Kim Couture doesn't need a lesson from anyone on what it means to persevere. But in order to compete at the professional level, she does need a lesson in skills training and a lot more time to develop her skill set. The MMA fight game is evolving at a ferocious pace at both the amateur and professional level. Unless you are an incredibly gifted athlete, you need time to prepare for competition. Just as we ask every other competitor to work their way through before we grant access to the professional ranks, we must also ask the same of Kim Couture.