By: King Eddie
Following UFC 170's main event featuring incumbent Women's Bantamweight Champ, Ronda Rousey, and fellow Olympian, Sara Mcmann, we are forced to ask ourselves the question. . "Is the sport of MMA really as gender equal as we believe?"
It was not so long ago when the UFC's El Presidente, Dana White, was scoffing at even the thought of a women's division in the UFC. But then, like an invasion of the body snatchers, he jumps onto the Ronda Rousey train and WMMA came rolling into the UFC's station. Now before I go any further let me clear up one big point; Ronda Rousey deserves her hype. She is an extremely talented fighter and as formidable a Champion as there can be. But Dana's change of heart based solely on the one fighter did raise a few eyebrows. From the moment the inaugural Women's Bantamweight Belt was awarded to Rousey, things seemed like maybe they were going to move in the right direction. However, one must really ask themselves if the Women's division was given the same life as the Mens Bantamweight Division, or even the Flyweights.
The first sign that less attention was being paid to the ladies came when only a handful of names was added to the roster right out of the gate. The excuse was given that there just wasn't enough depth in WMMA for there to be a stacked division, but I personally have been watching WMMA for YEARS now, and the top names from 6 years ago are still the top names now. Not to mention the tons of new additions in the past few years. Just because their records may not be equal to the male fighters records, that's no reason to place judgment and say that their competition is any easier. But putting that aside, the UFC slowly put together a respectable roster of some of the biggest names in WMMA, mainstream and underground. Even then, there was still a nagging feeling.
Organizations like Invicta and countless regional shows began to prove the female fighters were no longer a novelty to add to a fight card. The ladies bleed, sweat, and cry just like the men do. More and more contest were being battled in which the women were stealing the show. In the early goings, I believe some people were still in shock, as if they didn't expect women to compete at the same level as men. It sickened me to see the "Well that was impressive for a girl fight" comments being spewed, but the sport plunged forth.
When it became more commonplace to see more than one female bout on a UFC fight card, many put the gender equality questions to rest, but the biggest example of sexism still shows it's horrible face in a large percentage of WMMA bouts, and that is that the ladies are not "always" given the same amount of time that the men are to plug on in their fights. I'll say there are a handful of examples in which a female match was allowed to unfold after a few knockdows and bloody noses, and those were AMAZING. . but that's just it. Don't we want to see more of that AMAZING quality? And all that needs to be done is to let the ladies take a little damage. It's not called Women's Almost Kind Of Like Mixed Martial Arts As Long As It Doesn't Look Like It Hurts You Too Much. It's called WOMEN'S MIXED MARTIAL ARTS.
In the main event of UFC 170, this particular inequality was illuminated when title challenger Sara McMann was dropped with a knee to the body. For a moment it looked as if she wasn't going to make it. But then with outstanding resolve, and inhuman abilities (for anyone who has been kneed in the liver before, you know how hard it is to even think, much less stand to your feet) Mcmann stood to her feet and prepared to engage once more. But before she could unleash any form of defense/offensive, the bout was halted by Herb Dean. The very same Herb Dean who allowed TJ Waldburger roughly 35 seconds of opportunity earlier in the night, after he was clearly dazed and confused by several ground strikes from Mike Pyle. It was shamefull. My outrage is not based on any hopes that I had of McMann winning, but in the realization that in a sport in which the objective is to beat your opponent until either there is no more time left in the fight or no more fight left in the opponent, the ladies aren't given the same opportunities that the men are. At least that is my humble opinion.
This is merely one example, and in no way am I smearing the UFC because they have certainly given WMMA a whole new platform to perform. But here, there, and everywhere we can see examples of this. Until the knee jerk reaction from seeing a bloodied and beaten woman battling it out with another are squashed, the words "gender equality" in MMA are greatly diminished. Yes, the Women can now fight on the same level as the Men. . . but just allowing them to fight and not giving them the same chance is like allowing them to vote and not letting them run for office. It just makes no sense for a progressive world in combat sports. It's 2014 people. It's time to turn them loose.
Once again, I'd like to remind everyone that in no way am I bashing organizations, refs, judges, fans, or teams. Nor do I particularly like seeing women, or men for that matter, beaten excessively. But what I do advocate as well as enjoy is a good, clean, fair, MMA match. No matter the race, religion, gender, or background. . . . we are all the same in the cage. Thank you all for the read and I hope you all give it some thought.