Female Fighters in MMA

This is a good week for guest posts on Moai Martial Arts. Here’s a nice opinion piece courtesy of copywriter and journalist Lily McCann. If you’re looking forward to Rousey vs. Kaufmann, this should help get you even more excited for the fight! – Bill
The Female of the Species

As the brilliance that was the London 2012 Olympic Games comes to an end, people the world over sit and reflect on their personal highlights and as the athletes return to their home countries they mull over their achievements and success and for the lucky ones think about where to house their medals. One of the stand out highlights has to be from the boxing ring and in particular that of the success of the female fighters who for the first time were allowed to compete in the Olympic Games despite years of controversy surrounding the issue.

Some would argue that this year the women have overshadowed the men and whilst this could be attributed to the excitement around their first appearance in boxing at the games their success and fan base cannot be disputed.

What this legacy does present to the wider fighting community is whether or not there will ever be a place for women as fighters in UFC. Previously this has been dismissed as not possible and whilst MMA does feature female fighters they have never been granted access to the UFC octagon.

Change of heart?

In the past few days however UFC president Dana White has hinted that there may be a chance in the future that will reverse this situation. Whether or not White has been influenced by the impact of the female boxing in the Olympics remains to be seen but what women will take from this is that it could happen one day.

Speaking on Strikeforce’s All Access show Dana White said of Ronda Rousey – the current female Strikeforce bantamweight champion that:

“In the next five years, if there’s a woman in the Octagon, it’s probably going to be Ronda Rousey.”

White is careful not to reveal any immediate timescales as to when such a suggestion will be discussed formally and no doubt he will have to gain buy in from other parties and ensure safety criteria can be met however he has given female fighters hope and for now that is something.

Female fighter

That said 25-year-old Rousey is showing no outward signs of needing the approval of UFC to be successful. She achieved her champion status after participating in only five professional fights. Since then she has not looked back and her life has been transformed for the better.

Of her triumphs she says:

“I’m adjusting to everything being awesome all the time. I’m used to having eviction and food and dog food problems and cockroach problems and the gas is leaking problems……..I feel like I don’t belong in my new lifestyle.”

California born Rousey faces her first true test this weekend when she is defending her title against Canada’s Sarah Kaufman on Saturday. Despite being the favourite Rousey cannot afford to take anything for granted as Kaufman is a former title holder and has more experience of MMA. Fortunately Rousey is respectful of Kaufman’s track record saying “I watch her fights religiously, I see a very strong, tough seasoned veteran of the sport that deserves respect.”

Special treatment

Despite the obvious physical differences between men and women, at the heart of every fighter is a desire to win and this does not alter with gender. The same grit and determination was seen by female boxers at the Olympics and it is also shown in MMA. For Rousey personally, an Olympic bronze medallist in judo herself from 2008, it is about channelling issues from her childhood and using these to give her inner and physical strength for her fights.

Practically speaking if White was ever to give the green light to women in UFC it would obviously attract the same amount of controversy and speculation as female boxing to the Olympics. It would also need to be proved that it would be safe for the fighter and yet not take anything away from the excitement and intensity of the sport. To do this properly will be a long process of approval from fighting experts, as well as being signed off medically speaking, particularly in terms of what can be prescribed by a doctor to help fighters prepare for the levels of training and commitment required for UFC. After all, drugs and supplements have cause enough trouble for male fighters in recent years.

However, regardless of the issues it is likely that the women will put themselves under the greatest pressure. With the bar set so high at the Olympics they wouldn’t want any special measures to be put in place that could suggest that they were in UFC for any reason other than on merit.

About moaimartialarts

Lucky enough to grow up with the martial arts, I have felt their positive influence throughout my life and am especially interested in sharing these experiences with others. I enjoy working with youth and adults to give back some of what I've received. If you would like to learn more about Uechi-Ryu/Shohei-Ryu Karate, or if you want to find people to train with, please contact me. I am the head karate instructor for the Meriden Martial Arts Club.
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