Women’s MMA goes mainstream

By Sam

23 February 2013

Tonight sees a significant breakthrough in women's combat sports, if not women's sports in general as women's mixed martial arts (MMA) debuts in the sports premier organisation, The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). The bout, which is also headlining the event, is between Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche for the Bantamweight Championship. The bout also stands out because Carmouche is the UFC's first openly gay fighter.

The event raises interesting issues for feminists. Many have likened the sport to human cockfighting and believe it should be banned. They might point out that women's liberation is unlikely to be found in a 32ft diameter cage surrounded by thousands of beer swilling bloodthirsty fans. The sport's defenders point out that it is now highly regulated and highly skilled. By extending MMA to women, they might argue, the UFC is repudiating the dogma that women 'can't and shouldn't fight' while giving world-class martial artists the opportunity to showcase their artistry

Either way while the sport exists, is it not rather arbitrary, not to say patently sexist, to allow men to compete and not women?

Here is the UFC's president giving his thoughts on women's MMA only a year ago


...here is Liz Carmouche talking to a liberal political blog on being a gay athlete in MMA


...here is Ronda Rousey talking about beating up men


...and, for those interested in watching the fight, here is last night's weigh-in.

Key words: 

Leave a comment
Share this post

4 Comments on "Women’s MMA goes mainstream"

By Chris, on 24 February 2013 - 11:48 |

“The event raises interesting issues for feminists.”

Not really. It’s a no-brainer that women taking part is a good thing. Combat sports are ace.

By Rebecca, on 25 February 2013 - 11:48 |

I’m a woman and have been kickboxing for ten years. I’m pretty conflicted about combat spectator sports. I appreciate how much my training has made me physically more confident - I stand taller than I used to and am more active, flexible and healthier. Society teaches us that women are physically weak and martial arts help to teach women about their strength. I’m quicker and more lightfooted than the men I spar with - but they can pack a heavier punch.  We should be teaching our sons AND daughters about fitness and how to use their physical strength - and more importantly about control, patience, negotiation and fairness. If martial arts can contribute to this then that’s great. Unfortunately I think most spectator sports - MMA just being one of them - is about reinforcing harmful masculine ideals and I suspect the way that women will now feature in MMA will be sexualised, pornified and this will have little to do with women’s liberation.

By Women's MMA, on 12 March 2013 - 04:39 |

Women’s MMA has come a long way and is here to stay. Check out Invicta FC sometime and see how great these female athletes are and the respect they have for each other and the sport.

By UFC Fanboy, on 11 June 2013 - 19:23 |

I watch a lot of MMA and honestly? The women deliver exciting fights. I think if you’re a top athlete you deserve the opportunity to perform on the biggest stage possible. In this case, women deserve the chance. Just to update this article, the UFC is now starting the first Ultimate Fighter reality show with women fighters. This is just another indicator of the growing popularity. I have 2 daughters myself and I’m just glad to see more equality out there.

Have your say...

All comments are moderated, and should be respectful of other voices in the discussion. Comments may be edited or deleted at the moderator's discretion.

(HTML allowed)




Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?