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Women’s Mixed Martial Arts

Women’s mixed martial arts has been on a slow climb over the years. With this slow rise and finally getting featured on television and other more known events, the critics as well as the supporters have become more vocal. This ‘larger notice’ of women’s MMA made so many hope that it would finally gain respect as a sport. However, for women, even putting on a great fight, getting fight of the night {on cards that generally have one female bout and 6+ male bouts} and showing some real talent and knowledge, just simply isn’t enough to get it to where it needs to be.

A main debate is that most of the women’s match ups are put on at three rounds of three minutes each. The men fight three rounds of five minutes each. Some promotions claim that professional fighters with fewer than five professional fights must have the three minute rounds. That makes sense. However, it seems that a few of these places, even when the women have five or more fights, still list them in three minute rounds. We, as women, want equality in sports.

We train just as hard, sometimes even harder, than the men do. We’ve pushed and pushed to be recognized as athletes in mixed martial arts just to seem to rarely be offered the same advantages and benefits that are given to the men doing the same thing.

Women do not seek special treatment at the gym. They only search for equality, to be treated fairly while improving performance. Most men have never had anyone refuse to spar with them when training. On the other hand, many women have men refuse to engage with them. Within MMA women do not want to be seen as anything other than a competitor. Also, those women who train mainly with men, seem to do even better in their showings at fights.

There are a large number of sponsors that pay athletes to wear their products. Men are often approached by these companies and have many sponsors. This helps them to support themselves as well as pay for their training. So many women work full time jobs, have families and still find the time to train and fight–without sponsors. It’s bad enough that women are paid a lot less for their fights, but to mix lack of sponsors with lack of pay, it’s a harsh reality. It’s also a reality that shows that women do this for the love of MMA competition and not simply for the buck.

Another often debated topic is pulled up as soon as there’s a female fighter out there who fights somewhere and did a very poor showing. Does this poor performance really represent women’s MMA as a whole? No. Sometimes someone is just out-matched. With MMA it’s not always easy to find a fight with someone of the same experience level. But, a bit note on this is that when it happens to a female, because of not having so many female fighters, it gets more noticed than a man giving the same performance. I can tell you, after watching years and years of MMA, I have seen so many men’s bouts that should not have been televised.

There’s also the issue of men feeling protective over women and not wanting to see them in a position of getting hit, a bone broken or a cut with streaming blood. Of course, no one wants to see anyone injured. But, to me, this feeling is no different than watching your son or your husband do this. It’s no easier to see then in that position. However, men don’t have issue with it. Women have been seen as “the weaker sex” since time started. Yet men don’t hesitate to put us through the pains of child birth. We have proven through history how tough we, as women, really are.

To those who support women’s MMA I say, tell more of your friends. To those that love MMA but don’t like the possibility of women getting hurt I say, think of them as fighters. Once you step into the cage or ring it’s no longer about being a man or a woman–it’s about being a fighter. Finally, to those that just feel that it’s not a woman’s sport, try to be reasonable. Find a really good female match up and watch it with an open mind. You will be amazed at what you will see.