The History of Women’s MMA

July 28th, 2015 Comments off

Today, thanks to the huge box office appeal of fighters like Ronda Rousey, women’s Mixed Martial Arts has gained mainstream acceptance and women are able to play a significant role in most major MMA promotions. However, such widespread acceptance has certainly not always been the case.

Historically, Mixed Martial Arts has been male-dominated and the very mention of women competing in a sport once known as ‘cage fighting’ often sparked fierce debate. Indeed, as recently as 2011, the President of the Ultimate Fighting Championships, Dana White, was quoted as saying women would “never” compete in the Octagon.

So how exactly has women’s MMA grown from a taboo subject to a box office success in such a short space of time?

Early Fighters

Although it is widely considered to be a recent phenomenon, the history of women’s MMA actually dates all the way back to the mid 1990s, with various Japanese companies promoting contests featuring the likes of Yoko Takahashi, Svetlana Goundarenko and Megumi Yabushita.

In 2001, the Smackgirl promotion was established in Japan, becoming the first major all-female MMA promotion in the world. Soon after, professional women’s MMA made its way over to the United States, thanks to promotions like HOOKnSHOOT and King of the Cage. Before long, Bellator and Strikeforce also invited women to compete.

Gina, Ronda and Mainstream Appeal

A significant turning point in the history of women’s MMA came with the emergence of Gina Carano, whose Muay Thai skills and sex appeal helped her to gain mainstream press coverage. Carano was the feature of an ESPN E:60 documentary, became one of the most-searched people on Yahoo! and was included in the Maxim Hot 100 in 2009.

That same year, Carano’s bout with Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino became the first women’s fight to main event a major US MMA show. The event, named Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg, set a new ratings record for the Strikeforce promotion, attracting 856,000 viewers and proving that women’s MMA belonged in the mainstream.

Yet, the biggest MMA promotion on the planet, the UFC, continued to resist calls for women to compete. That was until former Olympian, Ronda Rousey, emerged as the dominant woman on the planet. Rousey, ranked as the pound-for-pound #1 female, became the first woman to be signed by the UFC in 2012. She quickly became a box office success, main eventing pay-per-view events and winning four of her first five fights in the first round.

Categories: MMA

World’s best female MMA fighter

July 13th, 2015 Comments off

Like boxing, Mixed Martial Arts is subjective and differing observers will have different opinions on who is the world’s best.

One way to find out is for combatants to face each other, but due to a number of factors the best do not always square off with the best.

However, where women’s MMA is concerned, the overwhelming conscious view is that “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey rules the roost. The American former Judo star only took up the sport in 2010, but she has quickly established her dominance with a string of victories.

She won her first title in 2012 when she won the Strikeforce bantamweight crown by defeating the fearsome Miesha Tate with an armbar submission in the opening round.

Seven months later, she made history by becoming the first female fighter to sign a contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and she has gone from strength to strength since.

Rousey was instantly made bantamweight champion and she’s showed no signs of losing that honour as she has seen off a number of challengers, including Sara McMann, Alexis Davis, and the aforementioned Tate in a rematch.

Other contenders

Rousey is almost peerless as the pound-for-pound number one, but there are a couple of female fighters who have reason to believe they are the best, including Poland’s unbeaten Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Brazilian featherweight Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino.

Categories: MMA