With womenís MMA about to take its biggest step forward, one of the original pioneers of the movement will be sitting on the sidelines watching, but not by her choice.
Earlier this year Erin Toughill had been announced to participate on the undercard to Saturday nightís Strikeforce card, with the belief that she would step into the eveningís main event featuring Gina Carano and Cris ďCyborgĒ Santos should one of them be forced to withdraw.
Alas, it never came to fruition.
As Toughill herself told MMAWeekly, her non-participation in Saturdayís historic event was the culmination of a series of events gone awry, leading her to sever ties with her management company and now wait for her time to eventually come.
MMAWeekly: First off Erin, explain to our readers why you are not part of this weekendís Strikeforce event.
Erin Toughill: First thing what I think people need to understand, as far as Iím concerned or any other top fighter is concerned, if youíre going to fight, youíd like to have a contract. I never ever received one.
Back in late May when they started pumping the Cyborg/Gina fight, Ginaís people were having problems finalizing the contract. (Strikeforce promoter Scott) Coker had asked me at that point if I wanted to take a fight with Cyborg and I said yes. Right around the beginning of June they announced that they (Cyborg and Carano) were going to fight.
I was told from that point on that either way I was on the card, even if I didnít go in Ginaís place. And then they also said if they couldnít find an opponent, I would be a back-up (for the main event). I agreed to both of those things. About the end of June/beginning of July, I left for training camp out in Las Vegas. That whole time I was out here, I was going on the word of my agent (that I would receive my contract). I never got a contract for either (scenario).
MMAWeekly: What ended up happening with your agent?
Erin Toughill: At the end of July I terminated my agent, Ken Pavia of MMA Agents. I was just beyondÖ I canít even say the word for how upset I was. We just couldnít get the ball rolling and now Iím in the middle of cutting ties with them completely. I have talked to Strikeforce personally, my lawyer has spoken to them, they want me and things are going to get done, it just happens that it wonít be on August 15.
MMAWeekly: What is your current managerial status?
Erin Toughill: I wonít say Iím sealed with anybody, because Iím not. I havenít had anyone come and court me while Iíve been under contract, nobody has done that. I have gone on my own accord and spoken to people that are pretty powerful and have big influence in this sport and with Strikeforce right now.
Ken Pavia and MMA Agents are not allowed to do any business on my behalf. My lawyer right now is gonna deal with that stuff, and hopefully settle it as amicably and professionally as possible. Iím not here to slam them, thatís not my thing, but I will speak up about what things went down. Strikeforce isnít culpable for anything. I really say my agent dropped the ball on a lot of things and put me in a really precarious situation.
MMAWeekly: To clear up another misconception, I understand there was never an opponent named to fight you on the show.
Erin Toughill: Before even the contract stuff took place, we had like four or five girls turn it down. I donít want to name names, but some of them were top girls. They were saying that they donít fight at 145 anymore, they only fight at 135 Ė and thatís the type of (expletive) that Iím tired of hearing.
I dropped 20-25 pounds, and the same girls are saying that they wonít fight me. I guarantee if (Strikeforce) asked them to fight Gina, theyíd jump at that chance. Itís frustrating. All those factors combined, I just couldnít handle it anymore. It had gotten to too close to the fight, it was the end of July, and I was done.
MMAWeekly: You said that Strikeforce does want you to fight for them. When can we expect your legal issues to be corrected so you can sign with them?
Erin Toughill: From what I know, it should be settled within the month. Once I get that done, I feel that chapter is closed and I know whatís going to happen next. I just need to deal with that (agency) business first.
(Strikeforce has) projected a couple dates (for my debut) and it will be before the end of the year. The understanding is that theyíre going to push me on whatever show Iím on next. It will be on TV, and thatís how theyíre really going to be able to build me and get a good following. The next logical choice would be to fight for the title, and theyíve been very vocal about wanting me for that too.
MMAWeekly: Speaking of a title fight, can you give us your prediction on the Carano/Cyborg match-up?
Erin Toughill: I think that Gina can win. If she comes in mentally prepared and mentally strong for this fight, thatís going to be a big plus. In my opinion, if Gina can come out and use her footwork, be more technical, maybe counter-punch (Cyborg), use straight punches, she can win the fight.
The one thing Iím clearly worried about is five five-minute rounds, and thatís a long time for anybody. But if I think she plays it cool, she can out-smart Cyborg. I think sheís smarter than Cyborg. Cyborg is strong and aggressive and all that, but I do believe thereís a difference between just aggression and smart or intelligent aggression.
MMAWeekly: Thank you for letting our readers really know what happened with you not being on the Strikeforce card. Is there anything else you want to say in conclusion?
Erin Toughill: I want to thank my fans for following my career the past ten years and for sending me all the great letters, emails, photos and everything. I just want people to know that Iím not fighting because all these things are out of my control. If I could have fought, trust me, I would have fought.
It will happen. I hope you can be patient, because I have to be patient too. As soon as I know when Iím going to fight, all my fans will too. Just please be patient and stick around, itís gonna happen.