Gina Carano may have been dubbed “the face of women’s MMA” and she gets a lot of attention because of her talent and let’s face it, her looks. Props to her for taking advantage of the opportunities set before her and achieving all she has. However, there are other female MMA fighters who have more experience than Gina, are easily just as pretty, but have not yet garnered the same amount of publicity.
MMA is still young, and as the sport progresses, more of these women who have paved the way and paid their dues will also start to get more recognition. One such lady is Erin Toughill. She is a fighter, MMA trainer, artist, fitness model, and works with charities.
Erin’s first professional fight on record was a Vale Tudo match in Aruba in 1999. Her record now stands at 9-2-1 and she has fought all over the world. She is currently on a three fight win streak and is coming off a first round knockout of Karen Williams at Palace Fighting Championship in February.
Erin is deep in training for her upcoming fight, but thankfully took a few minutes to speak with us at PRO MMA (promma.info) about a number of topics including how she matches up with her undefeated opponent, the current state of women’s MMA, her opinion on Gina and Cyborg, Cyborg’s female problems, and more.
Never has beauty been so dangerous, we give to you Ms. Erin Toughill…
PRO MMA: Hello Erin, thank you for taking the time to speak with us at PRO MMA (promma.info). How are things with you?
ERIN: Really well. I am just focusing on my May 8th fight for the PFC (Palace Fighting Championship).
PRO MMA: I know you have been involved with MMA and combat sports for a long time now. You are a real veteran of the sport and yet you are only 31-years-old, is that correct?
ERIN: Lol, Yes. I had my first pro fight when I just turned 22, in Sept 1999.. As of Sept 2009, I will have been pro for ten years. In June, I turn 32. I would not change it for the world. And the Erin now would beat the crap out of the Erin back then lol.
PRO MMA: Something a lot of people may not know about you is not only are you a fighter but you also train fighters (or have trained fighters). Can you tell us some of the fighters you have trained?
ERIN: I was actually Razor Rob’s boxing coach for almost two years. We have known one another for about 10 years, and he was looking for someone to help his boxing. He was a 5x World Muay Thai Champion, but his hands needed some work. We worked very well together, and he won most of his fights by KO or TKO from his boxing. We stopped working together prior to his Jamie Varner title fight. We both were focusing on different things, and I have not worked with him since his loss to Varner. We still spar together and are buddies though. I also trained Tiki for one or two of his fights, and I have held pads for most of the guys that were on the old Team Punishment. I even held pads for Tito Ortiz a few times. I do know it can trip guys out that a female can help the men on this level…but there are definitely exceptions to every rule :).
PRO MMA: You were “Steel” on American Gladiators. How many episodes did you do and how was that experience?
ERIN: There have only been 2 seasons. I was added to Season 2. I filmed most days, as did everyone. But they systematically brought the new Gladiators in every week, and there were 4 or 5 of us. But I was on most episodes for Season 2.
PRO MMA: Did you ever cross paths with Gina Carano when on American Gladiators? If so, was there any kind of rivalry between you two?
ERIN: Of course we crossed paths…we worked together. We worked together as Team Mates on a few of the challenges like The Pyramid. Gina and I get along fine and we have a lot in common, in fact, she reminds me very much of myself at her age. She’s a fun girl and we goofed off a lot.
PRO MMA: How much has women’s MMA progressed since you first started fighting and where do you see it headed?
ERIN: Wow, well I know it started even a couple years before I started back in 99, but it has progressed as far as the number of females involved in the USA. There have always been a good amount of women overseas like, Japan, Holland, etc. and these girls did not start fighting because it was “cool” or the thing to do. We fought because we were warriors and we wanted to see what we were made of. I am not going to say there aren’t a “new generation” of females that aren’t great, because there are. But just as the men, I see many females who have no business fighting. They should stick to non-combat type sports. MMA is a very difficult sport and I think some women do not really understand it’s a full time job, not just training on the weekends or when you have a fight, which I have seen many women do. I see female MMA growing, but steadily and perhaps slowly. The men have just started to be taken seriously, so we have some time till we catch up. But we are exciting and I think people have been pretty open to Female MMA overall.
PRO MMA: What ladies do you like to watch fight; what female fighters out there inspire you?
ERIN: I actually like quite a few females. I like the Japanese because they have the “Samurai Spirit”, and the “never die” attitude makes for a great fight. The Dutch have very tough women as well. I like to follow the women in my weight class to see what I will potentially go against. There are a handful of American fighters I like also, but I have to really like someone to watch them or think I could potentially fight them, for me to be interested. The women who inspire me are my sister and my mother, not other female fighters.
PRO MMA: What is left for you to achieve inside the cage; What does Erin Toughill want to achieve as a fighter?
ERIN: I have a lot to achieve. The casual fan does not know who I am, and that’s something I’d really like to see happen. So, when I fight for Strikeforce, they’ll get a chance to see another great female fighter besides Gina and Cyborg. This is also the first time in years I have been able to fight back to back. It’s hard to stay sharp when fights are infrequent, so I think I am just starting to see my full potential, after ten years. I obviously want to fight Gina and Cyborg, and go for the belts that are available. I have a handful of fights I would like to have and then I think Ill be pretty content.
PRO MMA: Can you tell us one thing about Erin Toughill most people would not expect (or something that no one knows about you)?
ERIN: I do believe in “giving back”. I think some people have the “bad girl” image in their head because I am so outspoken and blunt. Although that IS a part of me, there is much, much more to me than that. Being a fighter is a small part of me, but it is not who I am. I have spent time with a couple different charities like, for Muscular Dystrophy, and also went down to Camp Pendelton to visit with the severely injured Marines. Fitness is a passion of mine and I have donated free training and Martial Arts lessons to overweight children or children that come from broken homes. Martial Arts has helped me tremendously, and it’s really amazing to interact with the kids and show them how Martial Arts can impact their lives. If I do achieve more “celebrity”, I believe part of that gift is to try and make that impact by donating your time, clothing, whatever. But for where I am now, I have been very blessed, and if my story or spending time with one kid or adult can make a difference, then I have done my job. I am not Mother Theresa, but I am trying to just help as much as I can. Also, my first love is art. I went to school for Art, and at one time, wanted to teach Art History. I can draw well and have been doing it since I could hold a pencil.
PRO MMA: At last weekend’s “Strikeforce: Shamrock vs. Diaz” event, Cris Santos came in seven pounds over weight. She said one of the reasons she missed weight was due to “female problems.” Most people have taken that to mean it was “that time of the month.” Certain female fighters have said that is a “cop out” and a poor excuse. What is your opinion on the situation?
ERIN: Look, I am not saying those issues don’t happen. We are women (laughs). But it is part of the job to be on point. When you sign that contract you give your WORD that you will fulfill that obligation. Why is it there are hundreds of other female boxers and MMA fighters, and I have never heard of anything that ridiculous?Cyborg needs a chin check and needs to get her priorities in line because, in the end, there is no excuse for that type of blatant disrespect. She disrespects her opponent, the promoter, the show, and the fans. The fight almost did not happen because of her.
PRO MMA: Who would win a fight between Gina Carano and Cris “Cyborg” Santos in your opinion and why?
ERIN: I have seen all of Cyborg and Gina’s fights. In my opinion I think Gina would win. I think Gina’s standup is better than Cyborg’s, and Cyborg probably has the edge on the ground, but I think Gina is a smarter fighter. Cyborg does not think, She ACTS…and that can hurt her. At this point, she still has a very open and wild style. Just because you throw crazy punches does not mean you are the better fighter. I am not sure who is stronger, but I have trained with Gina and know she’s a strong woman. But I see Gina using footwork and picking her shots. it will be a great fight either way.
PRO MMA: Who would win between YOU and the winner of Carano vs. Cyborg and why?
ERIN: No matter who I fight, I have the experience, size, strength, mental toughness, and am just a well rounded fighter overall. Each one will be a different fight, but I have more experience than both and I have whatever skill set they both have, and more. I don’t underestimate either woman, but I feel I will beat both.
PRO MMA: Could you talk a little bit about your upcoming fight?
ERIN: I fight Emily Thompson on Friday May 8th, for the Palace Fighting Championship. I know she’s a BJJ girl with a 4-0 record. For some reason the ground girls think that’s where I will lack, but I have been doing ground longer than stand up and I am comfortable there. I look at every fight like my toughest, and I don’t look past Emily, but I will beat her and that’s that.
PRO MMA: What does the remainder of 2009 hold for Erin Toughill?
ERIN: Next week, I fly out to Boston to shoot an MMA segment for the popular show on Discovery Channel called “Time Warp”. They slow down the mechanics of fighting, hitting, kicking, etc… it should be awesome. I think Kenny Florian is also doing it. I look to fight for Strikeforce, of course. And there is a reality show involving professional athletes that might take off. It’s still being talked about, so I am not 100% sure yet. I will do some more fitness modeling and I am also looking for another charity to get involved with. I am just really happy where I am, and am open to whatever comes my way.
PRO MMA: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us at PRO MMA (promma.info). Is there anything we left out you would like to discuss? Any final thoughts? Words of wisdom? – Would you like to thank any sponsors or send a shout out to anyone?
ERIN: There are two motto’s I will always stand by: “Hard Work Pays Off” and “Excellence is Always Rewarded”. I have worked really hard to get where I am, and each year I try to better myself as a person and as a fighter. I believe in giving people the best you have to offer, and the best rewards will come back ten fold. The same goes with the opposite. I fully believe in karma. Thank you so much and please stop by www.erintoughill.com to see what’s new with me. Id like to thank MMA Agents and Palace Fighting Championship for believing in me. Thank you to fans and friends and the people I train with.
By: Jack Bratcher