Mixed martial arts has been around for quite a long time. It has largely been a male-dominated world where the best of the best male fighters square it off against one another to earn their chance of a title. It wasn’t until the mid-1990s that female competition was documented and that started in Japan.
Women’s MMA Background
An all-female promotion for mixed martial arts was largely influenced by female professional wrestling and kickboxing. In 2001, Smackgirl was formed and became the only all-female MMA promotion. Other female organizations followed suit like the Ladies Legend Pro-Wrestling, ReMix, U-Top Tournament, K-Grace, and AX.
Outside of Japan and the US, female competition can only be found in local promotions. In the United States, even with the success of the Ultimate Fighter, there was little coverage shown for female competition. It was only because of the like of Ronda Rousey that UFC President Dana White agreed to include women in the UFC.
How Women Train for the UFC
Female fighters training for the UFC go through the same process that men do. They go to gyms or training camps, go on a specific diet if cutting a weight for a game, adhere to a training regimen even on off days, and get trained by coaches in their field.
If there is something that makes training different for female fighters is that they have to train with men. It is inevitable especially in a male-dominated sport but women fighters can take it to their advantage. Training or sparring with men will help them improve their fight especially when training with someone with a different physique.
The likes of Miesha Tate, Julie Kedzie, Sarah Kaufman, Michelle Waterson, and Jessica Penne have trained with men or continue to train with them in their training routine. They have expressed both an advantage and a disadvantage to training with the opposite sex. The only disadvantages mentioned are that men have a tendency to correct and there is a potential for injury.
Succeeding in the UFC as a Female Fighter
Gone are the days when female fighting was just considered a sideshow. Now, there are even female fighters included in the main event. What’s changed? It is the recognition that women also have the same fighting spirit that ultimately give a great production.
But is it any different for women to succeed in the UFC as it is for men? It’s basically the same. Holly Holm, before fighting with Ronda Rousey, says she visualized victory already before even stepping into the Octagon. According to Holm, if you step into the fight with a defeated mindset, then you’re going to get defeated. She doesn’t let polls and the media sway her confidence before a fight. It was such mindset and commitment to training that got her the victory against the then undefeated Ronda Rousey.
When it comes to fighting in the UFC, everything is possible. You can champion one minute and you can lose the title in the next. There’s always no telling the outcome of a game. Both male and female fighters hold on to that possibility when preparing for their next big fight.
Female competition in the MMA has come a long way and it is on a track right now that won’t likely disappear for a long time.