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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.

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