MMA’s First Lady: Becky Levi

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Latasha Marzolla is a former Playboy model. Gina Carano is starring in a Steven Soderbergh film. Three seconds on Google can get you to a link titled “Top 10 Sexiest Female MMA Fighters.”

There is an undeniable reason for MMA’s recent approval of female athletes: Many of them are easy fits for magazine covers and adolescent swooning. Acceptance of their gender in combat sports seems to come with the provision that they look good in a dress. (Men are objectified, too, but it’s rare that fans will outright reject a fighter because his face is asymmetrical.) The preoccupation with model looks has more or less annointed Carano as both the “face” and the pioneer of women’s MMA.

That’s revisionist and wrong. Carano might be the sport’s most popular female fighter, and crater-sized dimples may make promoting her easier, but it was Becky Levi who made the first strides for the ladies.

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