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UnderGround Forums >> Is it a good thing that sex sells in MMA?

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8/20/13 11:32 AM
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Underground Blog
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FightLand blogger Amy Dolejs recently did a piece questioning whether it is a good thing that sex sells in MMA (as it does everywhere).

Where some see objectification, newly signed Invicta fighter Felice Herrig sees opportunity. The manifestation of a new cage-fighting current of third-wave feminism, she’s tapped into an important marketing advantage women in MMA have that men don’t: an audience made up mostly of people who look at them as potential sex partners. Herrig is a skilled fighter, but she uses more than her skill to get sponsors and audience attention. “I would love for most people to be a fan of me because of my fighting,” she tells Fightland, “but if they like me because they think I’m hot or they think I’m funny, that’s okay.”

So Herrig delights unapologetically in her sexuality. She posts provocative photos and flirts with fans... Her self-promotion strategy has even led to the occasional public pre-fight battles about that strategy with opponents—a marketing strategy within a marketing strategy.

Women’s MMA veteran Tara LaRosa, meanwhile, doesn’t buy any of it, summing up many female fighters' attitude about using sex to sell in a tweet sent during the leadup to the Herrig/Clark fight:  “In general those who play up the sexy angle are those lacking skill.”

That would have been my opinion a few years ago, before I started watching women’s MMA obsessively. Now the argument isn’t about who is trashy or whether a fighter who posts sexy photos can also be good at beating people up. I think it’s a two-pronged argument that looks inconsistent but makes perfect sense to me—one part recognition that men still have a very particular effect on women’s MMA and one part “who gives a s---.” And Herrig was a factor in changing my mind.

Herrig start posting regular bedhead/workout photos with no goal other than to connect with her fans, but she saw an immediate difference in how they were received compared to the more professional ones. “Those get the most views and shares and comments,” she says. “The first picture I posted of myself right after a workout in the mirror, within two hours it got like 14,000 views.”

Herrig has a theory about why those pictures are so popular: “I don’t even think those pictures are sexy. It’s that it’s so real. The fans feel like they’re a part of your life.”

The fact is, MMA is a source of entertainment, and a successful MMA fighter has to be both skilled and entertaining to capture fans’ attention. For male fighters, though, that entertainment can take a lot of forms—the epic trash talkers, the stoic martial artists, the guys with the flying acrobatic kicks, even the wearers of silly hats. Female fighters are usually considered entertaining if they're considered hot.

But while there are uncountable stories of women being screwed over in the past for not being conventionally hot enough to be given high-profile fights, things are clearly changing. Not every woman signed to the UFC looks like a model.

As women become a larger part of mainstream MMA—both as fighters and as viewers—I think we’ll start to see a larger range of ways female fighters can get audience buy-in. They will likely always have to deal with a portion of the audience judging them by cup size, but there is room for creativity even within that particular cage. Herrig’s blend of sexy photos, flirty talk, jokes, and real fan engagement is at least richer and more personal than just random, predictable bikini shots; it’s an art she has perfected. She demonstrated that with the tweet she sent out immediately after I got off the phone with her the other day:

“Haha I just did an hour long phone interview ... What the interviewer didn't know was I was naked the entire time #bubblebath.”

Read entire blog...

What do you think UG? Would your mom or your sister appreciate or understand using sexuality to sell asses in seats?

And what's your favorite Felice Herrig image?

 


8/20/13 11:34 AM
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pennviachoke
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8/20/13 11:55 AM
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Ip Man 81
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Yes Phone Post 3.0
8/20/13 11:59 AM
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InspiritMick
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stupid point, sex sells in everything
8/20/13 12:03 PM
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fingers 'n' teeth
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InspiritMick - stupid point, sex sells in everything

yep
8/20/13 12:24 PM
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Ch1ef
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Good for me. Not so much for the less attractive fighters. Probably feels like high school all over again for them. Phone Post
8/20/13 12:27 PM
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zedlepln
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The author doesn't think GSP has taken advantage of his appeal for the past decade? This really isn't news.

8/20/13 12:38 PM
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brahmabull81
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Its whatever you got that sells. If youre a mean person or super aggresive, thats sellable. If you have extremely good technique in one or all ares it sells. If you have super heavy hands or really good standup it sells. If you have a certain look or impressive physique it sells.

And if you happen to be sexy as fuck, that shit sells too. I mean its not just sex that sells, and sex shouldnt be looked at as any different than any trait a person might use to market themselves. Use what you got.
8/20/13 12:39 PM
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Kirik
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The UnderGround, Mayor

The author is cool with it. She correctly notes that most male fighters do not have the opportunity to play up their sex appeal.

8/20/13 12:47 PM
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threefifths
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Two things sell very well in television and that is sex and violence. First time seeing Felice Herrig and she is pretty sexy.
8/20/13 12:53 PM
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Wovito
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Sex-sold WMMA is better than no WMMA, especially for the fighters, right?
8/20/13 12:54 PM
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TuLegit
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Everything in life is about sex, except sex, sex is about power. Phone Post 3.0
8/20/13 12:55 PM
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Wasa-B
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Its a double edged sword for sure. The girls already have enough stacked against them and as usual, the male audience dictates much of how this biz works. However, its not that far unlike how trash talk and beefs and other really irrelevant drama get audiences more hooked into the fighters and fights. Its all stuff aside from the actual sporting aspects to sell the fights. Also, the look of the guy fighters has always been a factor as well. Of course, the beefs and the way a male fighter looks is usu directly or indirectly related to their fight games where as female sex appeal is not so much but fighters trying to get spotlight in ways other than their actual sporting merit could also be grouped into the same bag.
8/20/13 12:57 PM
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Wasa-B
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In the end though, just like a male fighter, you can talk and look all the way you want, sooner or later, the fans should realize how legit they are. Like the Michell Waterson thread, she's known as the Karate Hottie and her hooched up pics are all over the place...but then just watch her fight with Penne and thats that.
8/20/13 12:59 PM
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Primitive Mischief
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My only worry is that less talented fighters are going to get opportunities that more deserving women will miss out on because they are eye candy. Phone Post 3.0
8/20/13 1:34 PM
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Wasa-B
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I think Ronda's actually been pretty good on all corners here. Yes, her looks have been used but she also has a very athletic look as well which i think most onlookers get right away and respect not just on the hottie factor. She also has the mouth and persona, like a Chael, but...she's been backing it up and delivering when she's needed to. Of course, the Olympic medallist background, signature unstoppable technique, etc.....i'd say she's been good for the sport overall.
8/20/13 2:24 PM
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Aaron Becker
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this is the only way women fighters will get noticed
8/20/13 2:54 PM
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nearchakedroke
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she's much hotter than rousy and proly better fighter
8/20/13 3:06 PM
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NFABeeJay
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Aaron Becker - this is the only way women fighters will get noticed
Nope Phone Post 3.0
8/20/13 3:14 PM
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donkypunch55
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TuLegit - Everything in life is about sex, except sex, sex is about power. Phone Post 3.0
Nice. Phone Post 3.0
8/20/13 3:33 PM
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Aaron Becker
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NFABeeJay - 
Aaron Becker - this is the only way women fighters will get noticed
Nope Phone Post 3.0

really? why does Honda get so much publicity for being on top of a weak division?
8/20/13 3:46 PM
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Humanityisthedevil
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Aaron Becker - 
NFABeeJay - 
Aaron Becker - this is the only way women fighters will get noticed
Nope Phone Post 3.0

really? why does Honda get so much publicity for being on top of a weak division?

Because that "weak" division is the only one thats on tv/ppv and Rousey is it's dominant champion.
8/20/13 3:49 PM
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TheGoldenRule
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CRMartin11 -
TuLegit - Everything in life is about sex, except sex, sex is about power. Phone Post 3.0

what you mean to say is everything in life is about power. Sex especially.

I recommend "the power of Now".
Everything else takes care of itself.

*backs out of thread* Phone Post
8/20/13 4:18 PM
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Aaron Becker
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InteSaSerios - Well honda proves that its also about talent and not just looks obviously.

because she's on top of the weakest division imaginable?
8/20/13 4:33 PM
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Wasa-B
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This greener seems mad at honda.

If she's good enough to get hespect from manny, karo, diaz bros, that's good enough for me....that olympic medal in the most competitive female combat sport in the world should also do it too. you just seem mad like the rest of the female insecure muds on here, bro.

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