Nowadays, it is great to see the array of women that are involved in the sports industry. In fact, there are more women than ever trying to build a career for themselves in sports such as MMA. Coined as the fastest growing sport in the world, the world of MMA has always been associated with men throughout history. However, as times are changing, it is worth exploring the idea of the rise of women in MMA.
Firstly, in recent years, MMA has become one of the most popular sports. With its rise to prominence in the early 1990s, this art form has been hailed all over the world. Thanks to a global interest in women’s issues, women can now be glimpsed in MMA matches. The first women’s MMA tournament took place in Tokyo, Japan in July 18, 1995 sparking an interest for many in female sports. Two years later in March 28, 1997 the first recorded female MMA competition was hosting in the United States at the International Fighting Championship where Becky Levi defeated Betty Fagan. While male and female MMA fighting is similar in many ways, female UFC fighters have four weight divisions they can be in. These are the Strawweight, Bantamweight, Featherweight and Flyweight which has been added recently.
Throughout the years, female fighters have had to overcome a range of obstacles and hurdles that have been imposed on them due to their gender. From the gender pay gap to less opportunities, women have always been stifled in some way in comparison to men. However, recent years have winters many women showing how strong they are both physically and mentally, allowing them to overcome these barriers. Thankfully, female MMA fighters have been able to use these challenges as fuel and showcase how determined they are to prevail in fighting. Not only has this been revolutionary for themselves, but it has also helped to inspire future generations of women.
One female MMA fighter that has paved the way for many other female MMA fighters is Ronda Rousey. She was a landmark signing for UFC in 2012, at a time when female fighting was considered niche. Although this was seen to be almost like an experiment of some sort, it paid off as she became associated with UFC for many years and even became the highest earning fighter with them by mid-decade. She typically entered every fight as the odds-on favourite in the MMA betting markets but arguably the most famous female match of all time ended in defeat for her against Holly Holm against all the odds.
Furthermore, another famous name in MMA is Chris “Cyborg” Justino. She is known as one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time, and first rose to prominence in 2009, by defeating Gina Carano via TKO, winning the first ever Strikeforce women’s featherweight title. Moreover, many people reward Amanda Nunes as the best female UFC fighter of all time, owing to the fact that she came out on top of the women’s bantamweight division in one of he most impressive fights of all time, including male MMA fights.
On the other hand, Gina Carano has also cemented a name for herself as an MMA competitor. Having taken part in Strikeforce and EliteXC between the years of 2006 and 2009, she has managed to get an outstanding record of 7-1 making her one of the most recognisable faces in women’s MMA. In addition, Megumi Fuiji is well known in women’s MMA as she had ranked as the world’s number 1 pound-for-pound female MMA fighter by MMARising.com. With a record of 22-0, she will remain to be one of the most respected names in female martial arts.
Of course, for those in MMA fighting circles, Valentina Shevchenko who is also known as The Precision Striker. As a former professional Muay Thai fighters, this fighter exemplified how you can succeed in anything. Throughout her career, she has shown her outstanding striking skills and unwavering determination in the UFC’s women’s flyweight division. Zhang Weili is another well respected name in the MMA scene. Not only did she become the first-ever Chinese UFC champion when she got the women’s Strawweight title, but she has also managed to amass a large fanbase of loyal followers over the year.
Overall, it is clear to see just how women have risen up in the MMA scene. What was once considered to be niche and uncommon has now became a possibility for women all around the world to take part in MMA fighting. In the future, as society becomes even more interested in women’s rights and in their participation in sports, we should witness even more representation of female MMA fighters.
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