10 of the most influential women in MMA history
Kaitlin Young fought from 2007 to 2014, and works now as a matchmaker for Invicta Fighting Championships and Driller Promotions. In honor of Women’s History Month, Young was asked recently by the MMA mat manufacturer Zebra Athletics to name 10 of the most influential women in MMA history.
MMA at the elite level is uniquely equitable, with women competing under identical rules, for the same pay, with equal fan attention. However, that was far from the case originally. These women helped build the solid state of the art today.
Becky Levi • 7-1 • years active 1996-2000
No longer directly involved in MMA, she now provides strength and conditioning coaching for young athletes in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Marloes Coenen • 23-8 • years active 2000-2017
The former Strikeforce Bantamweight Champion now has her own gym in Amsterdam and has a documentary and a book in the works.
Jennifer Howe • 13-2 • years active 1998-2005
Howe now resides in Salt Lake City, managing the gym as one half of an MMA power couple with standout Jeremy Horn.
Roxanne Modafferi • 21-14 • years active 2003-present
Now currently competing in the UFCs 125 division, Modafferi was on a six-fight skid from 2010-2013 but rallied back, finding great success and her best fights in recent years. She’s the only female fighter to come on the scene in the early 2000s and still sit on top of her division today.
Debi Purcel • 4-2 • years active 2001-2008
Black belt in Ruas Vale Tudo, BJJ, and Taekwondo Debi Purcel was the first woman to fight in King of the Cage and the first to headline a HookNShoot, and founded the first online community for WMMA and the first female apparel line with Fightergirls. She now runs a successful HVAC company.
Rosi Sexton • 13-5 • years active 2002-2014
Rosi now works as an Osteopath specializing in sports medicine.
Tara LaRosa • 22-5 • 2002-present
When she’s not beating up Internet trolls, Tara is sharing her knowledge with others as a coach near Detroit, Michigan.
Shayna Baszler • 15-11 • years active 2003-2017
Since stepping away from MMA, Baszler has entered the world of professional wrestling. She is now based out of Orlando, Florida as an athlete with the WWE.
Megumi Fujii • 26-3 • years active 2004-2013
Perhaps the most dominant female fighter MMA has ever seen, Mega Megu is now coaching at her own gym in her native Japan.
Julie Kedzie • 16-13 • years active 2004-2013
Julie is currently involved with Invicta Fighting Championships as one half of the commentary team at live events. She teaches English literature at the University of Iowa and is still coaching MMA at a local gym.
These women broke down barriers and fought for acceptance in a sport that was deemed too violent for anyone at the time, let alone women. As with any form of progress, each generation has a little less work to do an a little more to take for granted. Thanks to these ladies for helping to make MMA the incredible sport that it has become.