Senator John McCain once claimed that Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) was known as “human cockfighting.” Looking back on that statement, MMA has been taken to new heights and is not only sweeping the nation but is making its footprint in the international environment. The UFC is no longer exclusively hosted by North American states but also Canada, Europe, Japan, and South America. According to plans by UFC President, Dana White, 2013 will bring the UFC to South East Asia. Today, MMA athletes and news have been posted on the front pages of The L.A. Times, USA Today, and CNN to name a few and the UFC even has its own tab on ESPN. It is clearly evident that MMA is the sport of the 21st century, but what about women competitors in the Octagon?
MMA has traditionally been a sport dominated by males and has its roots from gladiatorial contests in the Coliseum. The gladiators were combatants who would fight in violent confrontations with others for the sole purpose of entertainment. Although MMA fighters are professionally trained athletes who fight for the passion of the sport, the international environment has taken much interest in the competition, similar to that of the 2nd century. Viewers are more intrigued in the UFC than boxing and the general public; but more specifically, women competing in the Octagon has sparked the attention of new viewers.
The fight card for UFC 157 made history; it was the first time two women headlined the main card and it was all it was hyped up to be. I was a bit hesitant to purchase the fight because I had seen women fight before and it is very different from the fights between the men. It was three straight rounds of women grappling and wrestling. The general public wants to see quick knockouts or a tap-out, not letting the judges decide the outcome of the fight. It is just Western culture. But, who wants to see women throwing punches and getting bloody anyways? One likely cringes at the thought of that since, “women are supposed to be feminine,” and there is nothing feminine about combat sports. This may stir some controversy and disturb several parents. However, UFC 157’s main card was one of the better fights of the night; it was very technical and despite a bias on females fighting, it was very entertaining. As a matter of fact, UFC 157 had almost 40% more pay-per-view buyers than UFC 156 between Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar (UFC 157 Records an Estimate 500,000 buys).
UFC 157 is paving the way for women competing in the biggest fight promotion in the world. Although there will never be competition against men, women are making their mark in a sport that has been traditionally dominated by males, and they are doing it well. As women are beginning to break traditional sports barriers, is Western culture beginning to see a shift toward equality with women in popular professional sports? Last February, Danica Patrick qualified first in the Daytona 500. This past weekend Lauren Silberman became the first woman to audition for the regional National Football League Combine. What will be next?