“The rules are…there are no rules”

Cage Fighting Women: £13.99, Quantum Diamond
Extreme Catfighting: £12.99, Visual Entertainment

Fighting women may be classified by two criteria: useless/vicious and cute/ugly. Thus, Mima Shimoda is vicious-cute, while Jane Couch is vicious-ugly. The “ladies” [quotes advisedly used] on Extreme Catfighting tend to the cute end of the spectrum, but despite their efforts, remain inept – they wouldn’t last two minutes with Couch or Shimoda. Indeed, few last that long with each other: all five fights combined total barely quarter of an hour. Most of the 80+ minute tape is interviews, slow-motion replays and analysis, interpretation and sexual innuendo from two severely annoying commentators.

The basic concept, ring-based combat for women with few rules, is sound. However, fighting skill is irrelevant, and indeed discouraged, in favour of large breasts and skimpy costumes. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course, except the result is, it falls uncomfortable between sexual titillation and gratuitous violence. Thus we get repeated replays, both of escaping mammary glands and a very nasty looking injury, when one of the girls is taken down and her knee bends forward. This combination makes for queasy viewing.

Part of the problem seems to be matching fighters: all too often, an obvious imbalance in size or skill means the outcome is never in doubt. Only once do they get it right, and that bout not only goes the distance, it’s easily the best on the tape, combining boxing with ground-based grappling. A contrast in styles is one thing, and indeed part of the ethos of Ultimate Fighting is to compare different disciplines, but what we get here are far too many ‘squashes’. There’s nothing to suggest the fights are anything but legit – the brief duration points in this direction. However, one wonders whether there’s much point in watching a display of what largely amounts to martial incompetence, rather than arts.

Cage Fighting Women is the opposite, with no concession to aesthetics in its mix of kick-boxing and Ultimate-style octagon bouts. There is also no colour commentary, a mixed blessing, as I’d like some background info. Holland and Russia provide most of the participants (it’s a Dutch video) and there’s no doubting the women are chosen for skill rather than beauty – partly because the Russian ones in particular are scary. However, perversely, this tends to mean more tedious action, chary and cautious manoeuvring being the order of the day.

Also in contrast to Extreme Catfighting; only one fight is stopped, the others all go the 6- or 10-minute distance, perhaps reflecting superior training and stamina in these competitors. This is particularly apparent on defense; they know how to block and hold an opponent at bay even when they go down on the ground. This is largely only interesting from a technical point of view, for a layman like me, interested merely in an adrenalin buzz, it’s not really captivating to watch.

And this may be the most important conclusion, if any inference can be drawn here: theatrical, staged violence is far superior to the real thing. Oh, and that cute women are better fun to watch than ugly ones – but, hell, we knew that already…