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UnderGround Forums >> Women in the UFC: It’s Time


7/11/12 2:57 PM
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Underground Blog
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Underground Blogger Leon Mata makes the case for Women in the UFC. Follow Leon on Twitter.

The UFC often proudly touts itself as a trailblazer, particularly among the younger demographic. It has dedicated significant marketing efforts to reach Gen X, Y and Z as evidenced by its ubiquitous presence in social media. When was the last time we've seen the president of a multi-billion dollar company trade expletives with a 14-year-old internet warrior on Twitter? And yet, despite being a new-age, modern phenomenon in our cultural timeline, the UFC is still clinging to the boys-only edict that has been pretty much wiped from the four corners of the United States, save a few decrepit institutions. To me, it’s a bit confusing that an organization that is so in-tune with social trends and geared towards a wide, progressive audience doesn’t have the balls to allow anyone without testicles into the Octagon when doing so would be a no-brainer from nearly every point of view. 

From a purely economic perspective, bringing women into the UFC would open the sport up to an entire new segment of viewers. Yes, there are women fans who do already enjoy watching fighters like GSP and Roger Huerta in small, spandex shorts, but there is also a market of women who want to watch female athletes competing on TV. Take the WNBA, for example, which has been up and running for the past 15 years and usually brings in more viewers than UFC shows on FUEL TV. And let’s face it, the WNBA is a horrible product. Watching a woman attempt to dunk a basketball is uglier than the mangina Vitor Belfort carved into Marvin Eastman’s brow.

Women’s MMA, on the other hand, has had some epic fights and often steals the show when mixed in with cards featuring male fighters.  Looking at Strikeforce, the preeminent organization showcasing women fighters, you will see that two of the most-viewed cards in its history have been headlined by women  (Carano vs. Cyborg with 576,000 viewers, and Rousey vs. Tate with 431,000 viewers). The Carano vs. Cyborg event beat out cards headlined by superstars such as Fedor Emelianenko, Dan Henderson, and Nick Diaz, who could easily headline nearly any UFC card.

Yet despite the fact that women’s MMA is a proven commodity ready for consumption, the UFC is still firmly shutting the Octagon doors in the face of female fighters. Why? Well, the most often recited excuse is that there aren’t enough quality women fighters to build a division, but I am not quite sure what this means anymore. Undoubtedly, having a deep division of talent is helpful in building stars. But the ultimate goal of having a deep division is just that – to build stars. If you already have a star, there is no absolute need to have a deep, competitive division - just let that star shine.

One of the biggest PPV draws of all-time is Mike Tyson, who to this day is responsible for 4 out of the 5 biggest PPV numbers in history. But how many casual boxing fans can name a handful of Iron Mike’s opponents when he was in his prime in the mid-80s? The truth is, sometimes parity can hurt a sport. Superstars are usually created when athletes dominate their competition over a long reign. There’s nothing less sexy than two, highly-skilled, world-class athletes engaging in a 25 minute stalemate. Sometimes a blowout can be highly entertaining. When groups would gather to watch a Tyson fight in his heyday, nearly everyone was anticipating and hoping to see a spectacle – a train wreck in the form of Tyson vanquishing some poor sap, leaving him near death on the canvas with irreparable brain damage. It didn’t matter if you brought a hobo off the street to fight Tyson, everyone’s eyeballs were glued to the screen.

One may argue that even though there may be one or two stars in women’s MMA right now, you still need a deep division to build new stars that can sustain the division in the long run. Poppycock. First of all, in the internet age, a star can be born literally overnight. Take Kim Kardashian for example. One day she was just a useless rich girl living in Los Angeles. Then she toots on a flesh flute in a viral video and now, although still useless, she has become a cultural icon and multi-millionaire. Taking an example that is closer to home, not many mainstream fans knew who Ronda Rousey was prior to the Tate fight. But with the right mix of looks, marketing, and Olympian skills and athleticism, culminating in a stellar fight for the belt, from the lips of the baldfather himself, Ronda Rousey is now a superstar. In fact, the UFC is so smitten with Ronda that they recruited her to lobby on their behalf in legislatures spanning from California to Washington D.C. However, even though Ronda is good enough to represent the UFC outside the Octagon, apparently she is not good enough to represent the UFC inside the Octagon.

For argument's sake, even if we were to assume that after Ronda rides off into the sunset there will be no one to take her place – so what? Would having a handful of female fights in the UFC unalterably damage its brand or image? No. Life would go on and the experiment would be over. So why not take advantage of it right now, during a time of injury plagued, diluted cards? Fans, would you really rather see no-name American guy vs. no-name Brazilian guy on a UFC undercard over Ronda Rousey in booty shorts tearing apart another chick’s arm? I would be willing to bet that right now, Ronda Rousey would actually outdraw every champion in the UFC under 170 lbs. Under what system of logic does it make sense not to take advantage of that? If the UFC was willing to bring in a porn mogul’s bodyguard off the street  and a 1-0 pro wrestler, surely there is room for an undefeated champion with an Olympic medal, who just happens to have a vajayjay.

Economics aside, some would argue that women should not be in the UFC because they are not as athletic or dynamic as men. While that may be true to a certain extent,  since the beginning, the UFC and nearly every martial art in existence has been predicated on skill and technique over physical strength and sheer mass. A shining example of this is the godfather of the UFC, Royce Gracie, who looked like a wet noodle and moved like a handicapped turtle. During his bout with Dan Severn, Royce actually fell into REM sleep before waking up and pulling off one of the most memorable finishes in MMA history. Although uber-athletes like GSP and Jon Jones will carry the banner of the UFC into the future, there will always be room for technicians and fighters with heart, and the stable of women fighters has an ample supply of both. 

Perhaps at the end of the day, all of the arguments that are strewn about against women in the UFC are simply pretense for the deep-seated sentiment of some that just don’t like seeing women getting hurt. But the notion that women cannot somehow handle pain or trauma is silly. Anyone that has witnessed a woman give birth without anesthesia would attest to this.  And sometimes we make the mistake of confusing the ones that complain the loudest as ones that are speaking for the majority. Will some angrily shake their fist at the UFC while watching women compete as they eat their squirrel casserole? Sure. Will these same people stop watching the UFC because of it? No. The UFC has done some amazing things and accomplished monumental feats in a short amount of time. They have created an entirely new sport and world-wide phenomenon in less than two decades and they continue to boldly expand and grow. But if the UFC truly wants to be blaze that trail into the future, and if the UFC truly believes in its marketing machine and its ability to create stars, it will shed its archaic stance on women’s MMA and let them compete.

It’s time.


7/11/12 3:07 PM
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kungfugrip
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ufc fans already bitch about not enough big names on the fight cards even though there are more ufc now then before. Add women's divisions is going to make it worse.

Make strikeforce a home for women would be the best
7/11/12 3:11 PM
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Kirik
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Great piece! I am 100% sold on the argument.
7/11/12 3:16 PM
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infamouscarpe
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One of the best articles I've read in a while and support this 100% Phone Post
7/11/12 3:20 PM
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Mihow
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It's time! ... to try and use your influence to get better judging, refs, judging criteria and rules. but I'll watch anyone fight in mma so i'm pro female fights
7/11/12 3:21 PM
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bogildy7
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JkdSam -  Women have the right to fight if they want, but with that said, I have no interest in watching a woman mess up another woman's face, and I won't watch it.
. Phone Post
7/11/12 3:23 PM
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ChaelsBallTastesSalty
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JkdSam -  Women have the right to fight if they want, but with that said, I have no interest in watching a woman mess up another woman's face, and I won't watch it.

Agreed. No interest in watching women fight.
7/11/12 3:24 PM
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Smoldy
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infamouscarpe - One of the best articles I've read in a while and support this 100% Phone Post
. Phone Post
7/11/12 3:25 PM
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MIKE CIESNOLEVICZ
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Edited: 07/11/12 3:27 PM
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There are not enough women to actually have competitive divisions IMO. Women in the UFC is about 10 yrs away at least. They need more numbers of talented women.

Besides the few world class athletes that are out there most of the mid level womens MMA looks like back yard brawls I was in at 10 yrs old.
7/11/12 3:29 PM
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McBottery
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No.
7/11/12 3:31 PM
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nobigdeal
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Please no. Phone Post
7/11/12 3:31 PM
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ChaelsBallTastesSalty
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birdo - Start with just one division and build on that. Plus you never know what kind of revenues/new fan bases/advertising are out there

I'll go out on a limb here and say that having women in the UFC isn't going to bring in any new MMA fans.
7/11/12 3:32 PM
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KevinMcAllister
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No thanks Phone Post
7/11/12 3:32 PM
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valetudosuperfight
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only closeted bromos say no.
7/11/12 3:33 PM
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UrbanSavage
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It'll be a sad, sad day if this ever comes to fruition. There aren't a lot of things I like about Dana, but the fact that the PC bullies don't seem to phase him regarding shit like this is one of them. Women have absolutely no place fighting in the UFC, Rousey's supposed to be the best female fighter in the world right now and her striking looked like an absolute joke in her last fight. Not even in the early days of MMA could a random Judo medalist come in and run shit with only 5 professional fights, women's MMA will never get even close to where men's is.

Also, this is a poorly written article with really no arguments with solid foundations. I was going to start addressing the author's points and explaining why they're wrong until I read the entire thing and realized that just about everything he says is wrong.
7/11/12 3:37 PM
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onepunchJD
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No thanks.

Really.. please.. NO!

Lets just water the sport that used to be "NHB" down even more. Why not add a childrens division too? While were at it, lets co promote with Diseny and have UFC ON ICE!

Let them fight in Strikeforce.
7/11/12 3:39 PM
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valetudosuperfight
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The reason why you're wrong savage is because your a missing-link-easque knuckledragger who thinks Dana is doing something great by keeping women out of competition because you like women to be sex objects and not athletes.

I mean the point about SF's big draws with women on the card is enough to make you look like dick loving fool, but that would be trying to have a rational argument with someone who is still butthurt that women can vote.

7/11/12 3:40 PM
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UGCTT_El Pescadero
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Kirik - Great piece! I am 100% sold on the argument.
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7/11/12 3:41 PM
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MdGeist
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Lets flesh out the exsiting male divisions with a 195, 175, 165, etc. weight classes before we go about creating new weight divisions for females.
7/11/12 3:41 PM
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valetudosuperfight
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Let me point out that if you keep a women's division from developing because it lacks talent, then ti will forever lack talent because there is no space available for the game to even take place much less improve.

JD: what about Tate's broken arm is watering down NHB? It's not even NHB anymore anyway; that ship sailed a long time ago.
7/11/12 3:41 PM
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ChaelsBallTastesSalty
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Edited: 07/11/12 3:41 PM
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.
7/11/12 3:42 PM
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UGCTT_David_MMAmet
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One half hot champion (who is a 1 trick pony remiscent of early early MMA) and all of a sudden IT'S TIME

BS Phone Post
7/11/12 3:45 PM
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Stubjj844
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No. I love womans mma but there is just not enough woman for a division at the moment. There is also not enough card space.
7/11/12 3:48 PM
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DamnSevern
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birdo - What ever happened to

"If you build it, they will come"

 waterworld happened and it was terrible.
7/11/12 3:48 PM
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goku
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i think the article pretty clearly addresses the "lack of division" argument that everyone just parrots from dana..if they put ronda on a card tomorrow, it would sell...if they never do another women's card again after that, who carres? what is the damage?

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