Press Release courtesy of Strikeforce
Late last week, leading mixed martial arts promoter STRIKEFORCE received approval from the state athletic commissions supervising its upcoming events—Washington (Friday, June 19); and California (Aug. 15)—to have its female professional mixed martial arts bouts contested at the professional standard of five-minute rounds.

Until now, three-minute rounds were the norm for most female fights in the United States.

“We are proud to be leading this movement in Mixed Martial Arts,” said Scott Coker, Founder and CEO of STRIKEFORCE. “This will allow the women competing at the elite professional level ample time to set up and fully execute a particular fight strategy. This is another great day for all of us in MMA.”

An internal statement from STRIKEFORCE Rules Director Cory Schafer, announcing the news to the company, read in part: “…limiting each round to three minutes in duration was designed (by state athletic commissions) as a safety measure for the protection of less experienced fighters, with no designation for gender. It was never intended as a gender bias against female professionals…”

Schafer’s statement continued, “Use of this standard will level the playing field for (the) female athletes in providing them with the time necessary to develop and execute their striking and grappling strategies in each round.”

“It is great that the largest stage females have in MMA is setting a solid foundation in implementing five-minute rounds,” said Gina Carano, who is set to face Cris Cyborg in the first women’s main event, a championship fight (five, 5-minute rounds) on August 15 on SHOWTIME. “I feel Strikeforce is taking female fighters seriously, which means we will be seeing some amazing fights in the future and I am honored to be a part of it.”

“This is a great opportunity for Shayna (Baszler) and me to have this happen before our fight,” said Sarah Kaufman (9-0 of Victoria, B.C.) who will face Baszler on Friday night’s Strikeforce Challengers card in Kent, Wash. (SHOWTIME, 11 p.m. ET/PT). “I am always ready to go five-minute rounds and I know Shayna will also be ready. More importantly, this is long-awaited recognition that we are competing at the highest level of the sport.”