I haven't read all of the responses yet, but I'll make a couple comments on this aspect of the idea:
Originally Posted by David Meverden
Well what if you matched male and female fighters based on lean body mass instead of total body mass?
If you look at muscle tissue in women and men the contractile ability is mostly equivalent for equal cross sectional area. Similarly, if men and women with similar training backgrounds are compared on lb for lb basis of LEAN body mass (not total body mass since women naturally have higher body fat), their strength levels are typically fairly close, especially in the lower body (not identical, especially at 1RM tasks, due to neurological and geometric/anthropomorphic factors, but somewhat close).
I don't agree with this strategy. The medical theory for "muscular equivalency" is out there that supports this, but the real world results don't support it in the least. When you look at strength standards and records between men and women, you just can't line up "lean masses" and expect the same strength.
Olympic Lifting records:
Men's 52kg class Snatch = 137kg, Clean = 168kg. For WOMEN to come close to matching these numbers, you have to jump up to the 75kg class: Snatch = 131kg, Clean = 161kg. If you ratio these records on standard athlete %BF's (not necessarily accurate for Olympic lifters), expecting that the female version would carry 8-10% more fat than the male counterpart, the Women's 58kg records should approximately match the Men's 52kg records. BUT THEY DON'T. Similarly, the 69kg Men's records outclass the 75kg+ Women's records by 10kg+ in both lifts, which were set by women weighing 103kg and 133kg. Lean mass matching would have said the women needed to be in the ~77kg ballpark, not 103-133kg.
USAPL Powerlifting records:
56kg Collegiate Men's and 52kg Teen Men's Bench records = 137kg and 145kg respectively. Only the 90kg and 90kg+ Collegiate Women's class records match these at 142.5kg and 145kg respectively. The LIGHTEST Men's class I could find shows 67.5kg Men's record Deadlift at 272kg. No Women's Class meets this Deadlift
, 75kg women through 90kg+ Women's records are only 227kg to 210kg (apparently there was some wicked 75kg chick). Teen 52kg and Collegiate 60kg (lightest I could find) Squat 217kg and 255kg. Heaviest Women's Squat records are 232kg and 235kg for 82kg and 90kg+. Again, lean mass doesn't come close to lining up for strength.
Rippetoe & Kilgore Strength Standards:
I copied the Rip & Kil tables from Exrx.net into excel, then eyeballed the range for each of the 6 lifts for ALL levels, Untrained through Elite (5 categories). For ALL lifts except the Press, 132lb Men's Standards EXCEED the 199lb+ Women's Standards for ALL EXPERIENCE LEVELS. In the Press, the 148lb Men's standard exceeds the Women's 199lb+ standard. Since the 199lb+ class is unlimited, I took a look at the 198lb Women's Standards. The Men's 123lb Standard exceeds the Women's 198lb Standards in ALL LIFTS except the Press. The 114lb Elite Men's Standard is almost identical for all lifts to the 198lb Women's standards. So we're talking about ~60-85lb Weight differences for equivalent strengths. Using %LBM, we should be looking at a 132lb man and a 150lb woman being equivalent, but such is not the case.
So if you tried to scale weight classes by strength, you'd be looking at guys giving up WAY too much height and reach, let alone weight. A 200lb Female Athlete is a heck of a lot bigger than a 125lb Male Athlete, in every dimension. By the time you brought the woman up to the man's level on strength, she's so tall, long, and heavy that it has now put the man at a huge disadvantage.
Running, Triathlon, Swimming Records:
Of course I can't compare on a weight basis, but here's a peak at the relative speed and endurance capacity of the two sexes. Men's 10k run record is over 3min faster than the Women's. Comparing the Top 10 men and Top 10 women, this 3min gap holds true. Men's 5k records are 1.5min faster than Women's, again, comparing the Top 10 of each. Women are 7min behind Men in Half Marathon records, and 12min behind in Marathon records. Women are also 12min behind Men in Olympic length (32.1mi) Triathlons. Women are 20seconds behind, in a 4min race, in the 400m Freestyle swim. "Flo-Jo" was 2 full seconds slower than Bolt in the 200m and just under 1sec slower than him in the 100m (funny that both the Men's and Women's 100 & 200m records are held by the same respective man and woman). Women's 400m record is ~4.5sec behind in a ~45sec race.
Beyond all of that, I have fought, wrestled, trained, and sparred with women several times over the last 20yrs, crossing a pretty wide spectrum of 115lb chicks clear up to 230lb girls that could bend railtrack by hand. Compared to men, the strength to lean mass ratio just isn't the same, and you can feel it like night and day.
Women are behind in strength, speed, and endurance. Not an insult, just a fact of life, the point being here that there is no way to level the playing field physically to have a sporting competition.