Debi Purcell announced as IFL assistant coach!

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    Chad Moechnig

    Post subject: Debi Purcell announced as IFL assistant coach! Post Posted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 2:18 pm

    Joined: Mon Dec 11, 2006 6:40 pm
    Posts: 10

    A Woman’s Place

    When I first heard that Marco Ruas had chosen a woman as the assistant coach for his Southern California Condors, who will make their IFL debut in Oakland on January 19th, I’ll admit I had selfish reasons for being interested.

    Not just a woman fighter, but a woman coach? That’s like “Million Dollar Baby,” only with Meryl Streep in place of Clint Eastwood (assuming anyone would notice the switch these days).

    It sounded like a story that would write itself. Even the hopelessly unsubtle Paul Haggis struck gold with the idea.

    But when I looked into this anomaly, I was a little disturbed. It all began when I found a highlight video of Debi Purcell, the woman Ruas had chosen as his assistant coach.

    I saw clips of her hitting focus mitts with more power and precision than I could ever muster. I saw her kicking a heavy bag so fast it looked as if frames had been removed from the video. This woman’s legs were like two slabs of granite, and there wasn’t an ounce of fat on her.

    To make things more confusing, when I looked up photos of her, she was actually an attractive woman, not some terrifying she-barbarian.

    Was this even possible? Perhaps more importantly, did I even want to see this?

    Though they have received only minimal attention until now, female MMA fighters are a growing population. Seen as part sideshow and part burlesque-act to many, the women have been pressing forward, clamoring for greater opportunities in the MMA world.

    Debi Purcell, so it seems, may turn out to be their Jackie Robinson.

    “I truly believe that women’s mixed martial arts will blow up in terms of popularity,” Purcell says. “I’d like to see it grow along with the men’s game, instead of following far behind it, like with boxing. I hope it evolves at close to the same rate.”

    Purcell certainly seems to be doing her part to make that happen. Aside from being one of the top female competitors, she’s also responsible for, a website devoted to female fighters. She says she started the site not for self-promotion, but rather to make it easier for women to find opponents.

    “I started as a way of bringing the girls together in the hopes that it would make things easier for everyone,” she says. “It’s frustrating to go through all the training and then not have anyone to fight.”

    Purcell first started training when she came in off the streets to Marco Ruas’ gym as “an angry teenager.” She started with kickboxing, and then gradually moved on to Brazilian jiu-jitsu and submission grappling.

    “My reasons for doing it then were completely different from my reasons for doing it now,” she says. “Back then, it was a release for me. It helped me manage my anger. Now I do it because I love the sport.”

    And yet, even Purcell admits that female fighters’ struggle for legitimacy in this sport is not the same as in others. The WNBA, for example, may have to work to convince people that women are as competitive basketball players as men, but they don’t have to worry about convincing them that it’s okay for women to hurt each other.

    Something about seeing two women punch each other in the face is just, well, different than watching two men do it.

    Purcell admits that she does get concerned about whether the interest in female MMA is always for the right reasons.

    “Some girls get on cards because they have a specific look. It’s really frustrating. But it’s the same with the guys, too.”

    “It’s not just about whether you’re a good fighter or a tough fighter, it’s about how you look or your personality, but that’s sports. It’s a little rougher for women, but it’s worth it if you love the sport, and I do.”

    Purcell has even resorted to fighting much larger opponents just to get herself on fight cards. Though she usually weighs in somewhere between 125-135 pounds, she’s faced women who were as heavy as 190 pounds, simply because the opportunities for female fighters are so few and so fleeting.

    And that’s something worth taking note of.

    What this proves is that however any of us feel about women fighting each other for sport, it doesn’t matter. They’re not doing it for us, and they’re certainly not doing it because they hope to get rich from it.

    They’re doing it for themselves, because they want to. If some of us are uncomfortable with that, we can stay home. As long as they have someone who wants to compete as badly as they do standing across the ring, they don’t care.

    Fortunately for Purcell, things are looking up as of late. After appearing on MSNBC’s “Warrior Nation”, a feature about mixed martial arts fighting in America, she’s been extended an invitation to the prestigious Abu Dhabi Grappling Championships, which she plans to attend.

    In addition to her own fighting duties, she’ll be busy traveling to events with Marco Ruas’ Condors. While it might surprise some that Ruas chose a woman over the dozens of other experienced fighters in his gym, it hasn’t surprised anyone who knows Purcell.

    She may have taught all the Ruas Vale Tudo team members something about the capability of a motivated woman, she says it’s Ruas who has taught her a lesson about how to treat other people.

    “He never looked down on me or discriminated against me as a woman,” she says. “He treated me as a person and as a fighter. He took me in as one of his own, even though I couldn’t make him any money. He trained me for free and taught me to respect other people the way he respected me.”

    It’s a lesson that Purcell has since been teaching others, one beating at a time.

    Post subject: PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2007 7:44 pm
    Fightergirls elite poster

    Joined: Fri Feb 13, 2004 7:16 am
    Posts: 671
    Location: Laguna Hills, CA
    This is huge for all the women fighters… Most women complain that the pay sucks when you fight for less than $1000.00 She is pushing for all women to get the pay close or equal to the men.

    I hope all will back her up on this quest!


    Post subject: PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2007 8:26 pm

    Joined: Mon Aug 09, 2004 6:56 am
    Posts: 915
    Location: Lexington, KY
    This is great news! It would be nice if this would make them consider putting a woman (135 lbs. ?) on each team.

    Post subject: PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2007 7:27 pm
    Fightergirls elite poster

    Joined: Fri Feb 13, 2004 7:16 am
    Posts: 671
    Location: Laguna Hills, CA
    I know that Debi is pushing hard to get women on the card…. Iam sure that they will listen to her and also work with her on this..

    Need a manager??? drop me an e mail


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