By Steve Cofield – ESPN 1100
Women’s fighting is still battling a severe uphill climb. It’s tough to find places to train. Once you’re there most of the guys are too big or shy away from sparring or rolling with the girls. No one knows that better than Erin Toughill. She’s overcome much of the negative stigma about female fighters to the point where some guys actually seek her out to train. When Cagewriter hit Xtreme Couture on Tuesday, Ryan Couture was hitting the mits. Son of Randy Couture, Ryan is an aspiring amateur who fights down at 155 pounds. On this day, holding the mits for Couture was the much bigger and more experienced Toughill.
“I’ve been training a long time. I still have things to work on,” said Toughill. “I definitely give these guys a run for their money. I hit very hard. Ray [Sefo] is one of my coaches and he says ‘oh my god, you hit harder than 80-percent of the guys in here.'”
Not only does Toughill hit hard but she looks intimidating. She walks around at 5-foot-11, 175-pounds and for any woman fighting down at 145 pounds, Toughill looks like a handful. Now the big question is, can she make the weight to set up a showdown against the freight train that is, Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos?
“I’ve made the weight before, it’s not the easiest thing. The biggest thing is doing it properly and then once I acclimate at a lower weight, it’ll make it easier to get to 145. But it’s not easy, especially for women. One forty five is a strange weight.”
Toughill, 32, says she’s the best in the world and now just needs the opportunity. After finishing a three fight deal with Palace Fighting Championships, Toughill signed a long deal with Strikeforce. The goal is Cyborg, who just so happened to be at UFC 109, where Toughill was watching her husband Neil Melanson, work with Randy Couture.
“I ran into her on Saturday and I’m actually a lot bigger than her. We caught eyes,” Toughill said. “She just kept walking. I would have definitely talked to her. She didn’t look that big to me.”
Cyborg physically overwhelmed her last two opponents Gina Carano and Marloes Coenen. Toughill thinks a bigger, more technical fighter is going to give Cyborg trouble and that the Strikeforce champ hasn’t really been hit in a fight. Toughill wants a warmup fight with Strikeforce in April or May and then hopes to get Cyborg during the fall.