Niki Tombaga | Staff Writer
The UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) recently made history for the groundbreaking fight between Ronda “Rowdy” Rousey and Liz “Girl-Rilla” Carmouche. The two headlined over veteran fighters Loyoto Machida and Dan Henderson, and put on an exciting main event.
So what is the big deal about this fight?
President Dana White had previously been asked in many interviews about the idea of bringing female fighters to the UFC, since there have been other (much smaller) organizations that have showcased these athletes. White had been very skeptical about the idea, and has been quoted numerous times that there would never be any women divisions in mainstream fighting.
White’s previous reluctance to endorse these fights got many viewers wondering about the reasoning behind it. The fights that have been done in other organizations had been fairly well received. Some of the leading women had even created their own followings.
So why was this emergence of Female athletes so prolonged? Does it have to do with the age-old chauvinistic act of preserving the “boys club”?
Anyone familiar with the UFC knows that it is an essentially male centered organization. The UFC is owned by men (President White for example); it showcases male fighters, and is arguably watched by a predominantly male audience.
Women have had a very minimal role, considering how large this ever-growing organization is. The only women that have been able to penetrate this ultimate “boys club” are the ring girls and one female referee (Kim Winslow).
However, White wards off any notion of sexism with quotes given to interviewers about how there aren’t any female divisions because there are not enough women fighters.
He made other statements about how there just isn’t enough talented fighters to match up against some of the already expert women. This unbalance of talent and skill that White speaks about seems to be directly pointed to fan favorite Ronda Rousey.
Rousey, currently the bantam weight champion, is undefeated. Rousey is a very accredited athlete with the bantam weight champion belt from Strikeforce, as well as medals from the 2008 summer Olympics for Judo. All of her MMA bouts have ended in the very first round from her signature armbar. With stats like these it seems as if she cannot be stopped! It only makes sense that White would be hesitant to start this women’s league. Where can it go with if there is one impeding force at the top of the group? Who will want to even compete with such a tyrant power as Rousey?
Although her record may be discouraging to some fighters, there will always be someone who is trying to knock Rousey off her pedestal. Carmouche is a great example of this. Stepping up to the plate on the February 23rd 2013 fight will mark the date of the very first female UFC event.
Carmouche as a fighter has fairly notable credentials as well. Carmouche before the fight had a record of 8 wins and 2 losses. She was a member of the United States Marie Corps, and made history for being the first openly gay MMA fighter. Despite her credentials going into the fight she was already an underdog. It seems as if the media and all the fans had her fate sealed with the predestination of defeat. However despite all the opposition Carmouche still went out there and put on an amazing performance, almost taking the win from Rousey with a standing rear naked choke. Nevertheless, Rousey was able to slip out and pull off her signature armbar and the bout was over within the astonishing first round.
After this fight what place do women hold in the UFC?
It seems that after this first fight, which was highly anticipated and greatly received, these pioneering women gained a new respect for female MMA athletes. They’ve proven to skeptics that they do belong in the spot light of mainstream fighting divisions. They have also proved that they can brawl just as hard and put on a show just as incredible as any of the male fighters.
Fans can only be hopeful that these heroines will continue to be featured in main card events and will inspire more women to continue this new generation of mainstream female fighters.