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Discussing the future of women’s MMA and whether or not UFC or Strikeforce has the desire or responsibility to help grow it

By Zach Arnold | May 25, 2010

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This originally was going to be one of our ‘talk radio’ segments on the site, but there are so many questions and so many issues raised here when you bring up this subject that I think we’ll take some time to go over some quotes from a recent radio discussion on the topic and break down the bigger points on a case-by-case basis.

To paint a picture here for those of you who don’t follow women’s MMA, right now the perception is largely that it’s a division with two notable names, Gina Carano and Cris Cyborg, and everyone else is beneath them. Dana White as UFC President had a chance to bring in Gina Carano either to the UFC or even the WEC (as Zuffa owns WEC) and he didn’t do it. He’s not a fan of women’s MMA and I don’t think he will be a fan of women’s MMA even if he does see women’s MMA draw some big-money fights. In many respects, I think he views women’s MMA the same way Vince McMahon views women’s wrestling. WWE had a chance to build a legitimate women’s division and instead McMahon promotes his vision of what women’s wrestling is, which is that most of the girls look like barbie dolls and are more or less toys for the boys. No matter what women like Trish Stratus did, Vince has always had this mindset on what women’s wrestling should be versus what it could be. I think Dana White respects the fact that women want to fight in MMA, but he doesn’t particularly care to watch it nor does he feel the need to promote it or help build it up.

The last point is a major question to focus on — does UFC have a responsibility to build up women’s Mixed Martial Arts? Depending on how you answer that question, let’s re-phrase it: Is UFC the only vehicle in Mixed Martial Arts that can make women’s MMA “legitimate” in the eyes of casual MMA fans around the world?

With that as your set-up, let’s take a look at some of the passages from Monday’s Sherdog radio show on this topic.

Should Zuffa promote women’s MMA? Is Strikeforce in a position to make women’s MMA bigger than it is?

“Are you a big fan of female Mixed Martial Arts? I mean we talk about it with our listeners from time to time, but where do you stand on you know the girls side of thing in the sport?”

“In terms of what?”

“Do you pay attention more to it besides it being your job? I mean, do you think that these girls should be showcased in the UFC? I mean, what’s your stance on it? Obviously, Dana White has been outspoken against it. I mean, do you think that the UFC needs to adopt a women’s division at some point?”

“At some point, yes, but at the same time I completely agree with what Dana’s saying with the stance that he takes that outside of Gina (Carano), I mean what is there really? And what do you do…”

“I think there’s a lot of good girls that fight.”

“Yes, but are there enough… you can’t really just make a division for Gina (Carano) and make a division for Tara (LaRosa), make a division for Roxanne (Modafferi), I mean you need more than just the one or two big fighters in each of these divisions because that’s also a problem. Women’s MMA right now has some names but those names are separated through three or four divisions.”

“Right, but I mean, you can make catch-weight bouts. You can, I don’t think you necessarily need to have a belt but I mean I think you know there are girls that obviously should be fighting in the lower 115 pounds like Megumi Fujii and whatnot but I mean she can go up and fight at 125 and still be successful. You know, I think that… you can make catch weight fights at 135, 130, you can make these fights happen. I really honestly think that there is maybe more of a need in my opinion for there to be a Zuffa female division than a Zuffa 125-pound men’s division.”

“I don’t know if I’d go that far. I really wouldn’t, I mean maybe in Strikeforce because Strikeforce and these lesser promotions can certainly use the fights, can certainly put on the big fights but Zuffa’s very much dictated by divisions and putting on and having those titles as much as they don’t necessarily matter but look at what the UFC’s business model is. WEC’s business model, same thing. They work based off of, all right, all these fights are leading towards to an eventual title shot for X, Y, Z fighter and every single fight from the ones in the prelims to the main event have some sort of play in terms of all right, who’s going to fight who next and it all leads up to an eventual title shot. They’re not just going to put in, bring in women whether it’s 125, 145, whatever, just for the sake of putting on these one-off big fights that may or may not draw that well because I mean to be completely honest, it’s not as popular as maybe a lot of the hardcores think it is right now.”

“Yeah, that’s a fair statement. I mean, as it goes on, I think we’re going to see these girls showcased in Strikeforce. I don’t know if Dana will ever pick up the female division and put them in the UFC. I thought when Pro Elite was folding it would have been really smart for the WEC to pick up Gina and try to make you know fights there. However, it’s something they passed on. Strikeforce is getting it. How big can the female division get in Strikeforce? I mean… the fight’s I think are good but it is a lesser promotion than the UFC at least brand-wise, at least exposure-wise. I know they have CBS but can female Mixed Martial Arts get to a higher level being on Showtime and CBS under the Strikeforce banner?”

“It could if it were done correctly. And I think that’s the big question. I think you have divisions right now that are I mean good enough to where you can move forward and I think Strikeforce is an organization right now where they’re just fine putting on Modafferi/LaRosa III with there not necessarily being an end game to it. Obviously the trilogy’s there and you want to try to see, all right who’s going to win the third bout, but unlike Zuffa with the UFC and the WEC where there is the end game is eventually a title shot, Strikeforce doesn’t necessarily have to have that. Now that’s also a fault of Strikeforce that we’ve been talking about for a while, but when you’re talking about women’s MMA the biggest platform for women’s MMA right now I think is going to be Strikeforce just because it’s something that they’ve shown they’re willing to do before and if you have big enough names willing to take on each other, well then I think you can get somewhere, it’s just an issue whether or not these women whether it’s Gina, whether’s it Cyborg, whether it’s whomeever, are willing to do these one-off bouts where there isn’t a title. You have 145, you have 135, but right now even with Sarah Kaufman, you wonder when exactly is she going to fight next.”

“Sure, well that’s half the problem with a good chunk of Strikeforce fighters. They sign them and then they sit them on the shelf for 7-8 months. Yeah, we’ll see what happens. I think that there’s still a lot of growing to do but I think five years from now we have a real… you know strong division for female fighters and whether it be Strikeforce or the UFC but I think you know we have the 25 the 35 you know maybe even 45 I don’t know how they would work out, it’s so hard to really sit down and figure out where these girls are going to fit because a lot of the talent is spaced apart by weight you know pretty good chunk of weight for some of the best fighters in the world that are fighting in the female division.”

Some of the points highlighted in that passage are 100% accurate. Strikeforce likes to dabble with the women’s MMA bouts, but they are one-offs and nothing consistent is built with a women’s division. Hell, their champion Sarah Kaufman can’t get booked. At the same token, consistency has been a major issue for Strikeforce since day one. The only MMA promotion right now with any sort of consistent booking and discipline is UFC and it’s not even close.

Which brings us to a bigger question — do these major promotions have a responsibility to help grow MMA? The NBA has desperately tried to build up women’s basketball through the WNBA and the image of the WNBA is atrocious as far as broad-based appeal is concerned. Female boxing has gone nowhere on a national stage because promoters don’t seem interested in growing the prospects long-term. Even in bowling, for goodness sakes, you don’t see the female bowlers get the air time like the male bowlers do on ESPN and their different media platforms. (Unless it’s a woman like Kelly Kulick beating a guy like Chris Barnes.)

Steve Cofield of Yahoo Sports has been brutal in his assessment of Tara LaRosa since he loss to Roxanne Modafferi last Friday for the Moosin PPV in Worcester, MA. Most people recognize what Steve was doing for what it was, which was stirring the pot, and he got the reaction he was looking for.

“I think that there are things that slide in women’s Mixed Martial Arts that don’t usually happen in a guy’s bout. Say I think it happened, Tara went for like a headlock throw and that happens you know way more in female Mixed Martial Arts and it doesn’t happen in Men’s Mixed Martial Arts but the bottom line is the girls are built different, the way they do things are different, the way they transition on the floor, they’re just afforded other things that guy’s aren’t, you can get away with things that you can’t on the men’s side of things. And I don’t think that’s bad. Watching female Mixed Martial Arts is like watching softball in my opinion, it’s technically the same game as baseball but transitions, things are a little bit different than you normally see when watching the men’s version of things. Either you like it or you don’t, but I have a hard time with someone saying ‘oh it’s not as good’ because it really it is. Female fights in my opinion tend to be almost more exciting than guy’s fights because the girls they seem to take more than the other guys, they seem to you know engage in a war quicker than some men, they seem to really put on almost a more I mean most real good fights in Mixed Martial Arts go the distance and you get a lot more distance fights with girls which makes it more dramatic, I mean I really I don’t think that if you’re a fight fan you can realistically look at a good, high-quality female Mixed Martial Arts fight and say, ‘oh Kimbo’s better’ because that’s just foolery.”

“That’s just dumb. No, that’s dumb.”

“I’m not going to sit here and say that women’s MMA is without its flaws. It absolutely does have it.”

“Men’s MMA is not without its flaws, either.”

“And you’re absolutely right and I do think there’s something to be said about a lot of the allure to women’s MMA coming in the newness of it I guess if that makes sense for a lot of people. But this idea that you’d rather watch Kimbo fight 25 more times than Modafferi/LaRosa is just dumb.”

“There was not a moment in the Modafferi/LaRosa fight where I was bored.”

“No, absolutely not.”

“I can’t say that about Kimbo and Houston Alexander. That fight was horrendous.”

“There was not a moment in that fight where I was entertained.”

“You know and I was entertained in the Mitrione/Kimbo fight but that’s really because one fighter was really outclassing the other and basically doing whatever he wanted.”

What does Strikeforce do with booking women’s fights? Where’s the consistency?

“The problem with (Sarah) Kaufman/Modafferi is Modafferi just lost in Strikeforce to Marloes Coenen. So you can’t really just have her even for Strikeforce you can’t have the Coenen loss on her record in Strikeforce on one of the recent cards and all of a sudden be fighting for a title at 135 against Kaufman. I don’t think you should make it a non-title either because it’s a slight on Modafferi which you really shouldn’t be doing. I think if you want Kaufman in action like Strikeforce has been saying, you bring in somebody else and there are other fighters out there but you don’t take Modafferi who just recently was in your organization, loss to Marloes Coenen, I mean it doesn’t really make any sense even for what Strikeforce is doing.”

“You talk about these divisions and developing them. You’re not going to be able to do that almost without just running all female fight cards, you’re not.”


“When we get a female fight on a Strikeforce card, it’s one. It’s not two, it’s not three, it’s one. And it’s usually one every other card. I think if they go with a tournament-style format and really you know hash out who’s the best in two divisions then that helps but really need a card with more than one, I mean that’s the thing. I talk about acceptance, these female fights even though that Strikeforce is doing it still seems like sideshow-ish attractions because they’re one-off here and there. ‘Oh, there’s a female fight on this card, yay!’ It’s like your shooting star.”

“That’s completely fair. That you’re right, that I’m 100% behind you with.”

“I mean, I don’t know what the end game is for female Mixed Martial Arts but it should be… I don’t want that it should be say accepted like female boxing because I think female boxers are still sort of novelty acts…”

“To me it’s each his own. … But here’s something actually pretty interesting… Strikeforce is filling up all of its undercards with all amateur fights, with the exception of one big undercard bout. You mean to tell me they can’t put the women’s bouts on there?” I don’t know.”

“Yeah. I know what you’re saying. I get it. I get it. And I’m looking at our chat, John from Montreal is saying that this is a pointless discussion. I don’t really think that people sit down and look at female Mixed Martial Arts the way they should. I think it’s something, again, is just a novelty act for most people because like I said, it’s like a shooting star. You see one-off female fights that are on Strikeforce cards and why should anybody care when most of the time it’s ‘oh I remember seeing her fight six months ago, that’s cool, let’s watch her again’ but it’s not ‘let’s develop somebody.’ Like a fighter like Roxanne Modffari should be developed. She got the Coenen fight that you know she lost obviously but again I don’t think it was on television. It’s a fight that should have been on television. It had you know it didn’t go Roxanne’s way but it had a very interesting ending, it was exciting, and you know Roxanne’s a fighter that can take a loss and come back and win in exciting fashion. I mean, it’s just, it frustrates me that they’re not getting showcased nearly enough.”

I will end this article with an anecdote from a promoter (not who you think) who I know very well who has promoted women before and has been involved in helping out girls getting booked. He’s had experience before promoting cards with all men, all women, and a mixture of both. He told me the best formula is a mixture of both, followed by all male cards, and all female cards a distant last. When I asked him why the all female cards were money losers for him, he pointed out that the fight fans that went to his all male or mixed cards just didn’t show up to watch the all-female shows. The promoter noted that the audiences to watch the all-female shows were entirely different and they were not fans that went to see his other cards and vice versa. The promoter’s heart was in the right place as he wanted to help build the girls up and really believed in it, but just as we’ve seen with women’s sports in general, they draw an entirely different audience than the men do — and unfortunately it’s often a smaller audience as well.

Strikeforce right now is the only player in MMA that can make women’s MMA “legitimate” in the eyes of more and more MMA fans. But in order to do it, they have to be willing to invest some real estate on their fight cards, at least three or four fights on the undercard, to make it happen. You have to book often, book consistently, and do it over a long enough period of time so that younger people who watch it are conditioned over time to really enjoy it, enjoy the storylines, get into the grudges, and also to encourage new talent to come into the business. Without putting in the resources and just booking women’s fights as one-off deals, all you are going to end up doing is stagnating a division in Mixed Martial Arts that could really grow and really do some big business if properly promoted.

Topics: Media, MMA, StrikeForce, UFC, Zach Arnold | 31 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

31 Responses to “Discussing the future of women’s MMA and whether or not UFC or Strikeforce has the desire or responsibility to help grow it”

  1. Sounds like you talked to Jeff Osborne.

    Short answer to me is that I don’t think the UFC has a responsibility to do anything of the sort re: promoting women’s MMA. Neither does Strikeforce. If they put on a bunch of women’s bouts and try to make it legit…how do they? Rankings? Not like anyone else uses those. Telling us what we should think? Strikeforce doesn’t have the kind of cache to force repetition of their talking points, and will be criticized. If the fights suck (and they might, look at the 135lb title bout), no one is going to give them credit for trying to legitimize the sport.

    In the end, Strikeforce can use it as a promotional tool, but its a waste of time for them to sink significant sums into it. For the UFC, there is no point in bothering at all ever.

    • Mr. Roadblock says:

      I agree with Alan 100%.

      I’m not a fan of women’s MMA. I don’t care to see it. I think it is overhyped as is.

  2. 45 Huddle says:

    I think if you don’t want to have anything to do with women’s MMA (UFC), then you should not be penalized for that.

    If you do get involved in women’s MMA (Strikeforce), then you should at least make a strong attempt at making the titles and divisions important.

    For me, I think women’s MMA is pathetically bad. Not enough talent. The talent that is in there is pitiful in terms of technique and fighting ability. Sure they put their hearts into it while fighting. Doesn’t mean I want to watch it. And my personal opinion is that the talent level is so low that it has no business being on the #1 or #2 North American Organizations.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      But isn’t that the point of this discussion on radio, that in order for women’s MMA to evolve into high-level fighting that you need a promotion that consistently books women’s fights and puts more money and resources into it so that the purses get higher and more athletic women are recruited into the game?

      • 45 Huddle says:

        You cannot shine sh!t. And Women’s MMA will always be sh!t. They can put all of the “resources” into it they want, but it still won’t be any good.

        It has basically nothing to pull from. Men’s MMA has BJJ, Wrestling, and various other institutionalized combat sports. Those either don’t exist or exist in such a small fashion that there is no real place to recuit talent from.

        Heck, the WNBA has kids, high school, and college basketball to pull from, and it’s still bad to watch.

        I just don’t think enough women will ever be interesting in fighting for them to have a real talent.

        • Amanda Showers says:

          That is utter bullshit. I agree–there isn’t enough talent, it’s disheartening (but at the same time makes me wanna…), and there isn’t enough air-time (which I’m figuring out now is because there isn’t enough talent). I want to get in there and kick all of those women’s asses and throw down f-ing fights like you’ve never seen before in there– BUT what do I have getting me there to throw my life and talent at it if noone wants to put into it or give the arena the time of day and I couldn’t survive off of it?– If there was a buzzing viable women’s MMA arena I would’ve been there full-force YESTERDAY.– But it seems like a sacrifice of my own life/potential for nothing if everyone feels that way: like all of my energy is better off being channeled into a shaolin temple and I could make a much bigger impact there–because the point of fighting in the first place is to make a notch in the fucking post and if your just gonna be shelved and repressed isn’t it a waste of time to go about it through “YOUR”[this] system/route? It seems like Gina Carano might have already figured that out. There are only so many battles you can choose to focus on and push your energy through– And making the choice to get wrapped up full force in all of this chauvinist business-politics / treated like a piece of meat while not being able to turn a dime from it? I, and most other talented women I presume, will probably vote for using our superpowers in a more timely and satisfying fashion–if we can’t find it there we’ll find it somehow somewhere else.
          Once again we’re just gonna have to go around instead of through and roar twice as loud. Until all these “should’s” and “could’s” get broken down by a sweep in the external environment from what’s internally already there. And who the fuck knows 3 years from now I might be roaring my head off from the cage staring you right in the eye from your TV set ..with my shaolin uniform neatly folded away in the closet somewhere. 😉

  3. Michaelthebox says:

    Zach, if that sort of thing made a difference, wouldn’t the WNBA by now have incredible athletes that people love to watch?

    Having high payouts in the men’s game makes a difference because male athletes have a variety of options. Exactly what athletic options are stealing top female talent from MMA?

    Plain fact is that the supply of athletic and competitively inclined women is incredibly low to begin with. Add in the fact that you’re asking them to hit each other in the face. . .

    • Zach Arnold says:

      Two arguments: one on platform and one on talent.

      First, the platform argument. UFC, if they wanted to, could offer women’s fights on the same TV and PPV platforms as they do the men. Big advantage. If you look at the NBA, they’ve never been able to get a legitimate television deal for the WNBA – the games were on odd times on ESPN2, on Oxygen, etc. So that’s the platform issue.

      But on the talent issue, you’re basic point is right. If men think a women’s product is dog crap, they won’t watch. But UFC is in a unique position to where I think the audience would be interested in watching a slowly developing women’s division over time as long as it wasn’t an all-woman’s card.

      Don’t get me wrong, there are double standards all the time in regards to the appeal of women in sports for guys — must be moderately attractive or better, don’t slut it up (except for Maxim magazine covers) and get caught in TMZ scandals, don’t be divas. No question about it. But I do think for UFC’s heavily-testosterone laden crowd that if you had attractive women displaying talent and acting “more like boys than the actual boys” it could work.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        They are unable to get a good TV slot for the WNBA because nobody cares about women’s basketball.

        Outside of 2 weeks every other year for the Olympics…. People do not care about female athletes. I take that back…. People do not care about non-Tennis female athletes.

        Watching women’s MMA is like watching midget pro wrestling. It’s a novelty. And once that novelty wears off….. And you see it enough…. It’s just garbage….

      • Michaelthebox says:

        In response to the platform issue, I’m inclined to agree with 45 Huddle: WNBA can’t get a good deal because fans don’t want to see it. This isn’t an MMA on TV sort of issue, WNBA had the regular NBA behind it and still couldn’t get traction. There simply is too little demand to see competitive women’s sports for the sake of the talent and skill on display, as opposed to cheesecake. (Which tennis has a ton of.)

        To your second point, if the UFC COULD get divisions up and running with a sufficient number of attractive competitors, that would be one thing. However, I’m inclined to think that simply isn’t possible. Because of weight classes, fight sports dock women for having body fat, and women without body fat tend to be less attractive. There are certainly exceptions, but most of the time super-fit muscular chicks are just not very cheesecakey. Moreover, MMA would seem to require way more testosterone than tennis, which I would expect to translate into more butch, less cheesecake.

        I just don’t see women’s MMA as a coherent sport as ever being a very successful venture. On a lower level, ok. UFC level? No. That means its up to lesser promotions to take the gamble, because the UFC never will, not unless somebody else proves the viability of womens’ MMA.

        . . . On another note, I’ve always been fairly irked by the arguments that the UFC or any other organization needs to push up purse size to draw in talent. There have always been 20 times as many men as women in MMA, even when MENS purse sizes were next to nothing. Men flocked to the sport and forced purses upward by putting on great shows filled with great talent, that people wanted to see. Why women should be given a helping hand upward, I don’t understand. If women’s MMA has the potential to be great, why can’t they provide their own talent, without having to bribe women into the sport?

  4. john says:

    Dana White DID want Gina Carano, and she was even part of one of those “super big announcement is coming up!” promises from him that never materialized

    • Zach Arnold says:

      You mean to tell me that if Dana White wanted Gina Carano that she would have signed elsewhere? Outside of Fedor, Zuffa can get whatever fighters they want at this point of the game. If they wanted Gina Carano, they would have gotten her.

      • Chromium says:

        I think they wanted Gina Carano, they just didn’t want to have to build an entire division around her. I believe they ended up offering her a spot in the WEC, where if she ended up losing to someone like Cyborg, they’d have a lot less to lose.

        I still think the WEC should try making a women’s 115 and 125 division, but considering how badly they’re dragging their heels on a men’s Flyweight division, I aint exactly holding my breath on that.

      • frankp316 says:

        Zuffa never really had the opportunity to sign Gina. The day after she spoke to them in Feb. 2009, Strikeforce purchased the EliteXC contracts which gave them exclusive rights to negotiate with Gina. That was the end of that.

  5. David M says:

    Women’s mma has no appeal to me at all, and I can’t imagine it has much appeal to most people.

  6. Chromium says:

    That StrikeForce would have to run any all-female cards or anything close to that to properly develop their two female divisions is fucking ridiculous. They need to have a full roster for their 135 division, and enough people for their 145 division as well to just build up challengers, whether it’s on the ShoMMA Challengers shows or on the main cards. If some of those fights are on the prelims, so be it. If it’s a short fight, or a good fight and they have the time, they should show it on the main card anyway. Meanwhile they should skip lighter divisions entirely unless they have a fight for someone they think might have star potential, like Michelle Waterson.

    What’s more, there’s enough talent out there, certainly at 135, and StrikeForce should really have little problem getting almost all of the true talent they want at 135 or 145, and for not a lot of money either. 2-3 women’s fights on a 10 or 11-fight card is not a lot to ask, considering how many near-meaningless local fights they use as prelim filler right now.

    Unfortunately, StrikeForce’s booking has just been bush-league lately. This is what happens when you give up creative control to a tv network, and more power to the UFC for taking a pass on network television so that they could maintain creative control, since they actually know what they’re doing.

    I don’t think the UFC is perfect by any means, but unless you go out of your way to be unavailable or actively piss off management (or both in Heath Herring’s case), they’ll get you regular fights, they know how to build stars and challengers.

  7. Mark says:

    Man, it’s a sad day when Fightlinker and their “jackals” of all places has the most progressive attitude towards women’s MMA online.

    If women’s MMA is such a fan interest scourge, then why did the Elite fights get successful ratings? It wasn’t just because people were drooling over Gina. They fights are usually show stealers. Yes, they have an advantage to go all out by having shorter rounds, but there’s some really exciting women in the sport. It’s not like the WNBA where they have to lower the goals and move up the 3 point line, or golf where they are incapable of driving the ball as far as men. They excite the crowd, get great submissions and knock outs. It’s great.

    And nobody is claiming it will be as popular as men’s MMA, since obviously the stigma of seeing a woman with a busted up face on television will always carry a stigma. But for any organization not called the UFC, they’re crazy not to throw a women’s fight on the card to have a guaranteed exciting bout and help themselves stand out.

    • edub says:

      All the Elite fights that had succesful ratings had Gina involved Mark. My girlfriend and I had a huge party the night of Gina vs. Cyborg and everyone was pretty pumped for the match. It was hella exciting and came away with a clear cut victor who was set to destroy all competitors who came her way. But it wasn’t Gina.

      None of the casuals who watched it ( which was pretty much everyone but me ) have asked about Cyborg since.

      The Sarah Kauffman title fight did more harm than good also because it appeared to most people who I was watching with that she could and should’ve finished it. Whether thats true or not is obviously up for debate, and the same could be said for many men’s fights, but women simply do not have the luxury of benefit of the doubt yet.

      Personally I have three women’s fights I would like to see happen. Larosa vs. Tate at 125, Modafferi vs. Kauffman at 135, and Cyborg vs. Toughill at 145…

      …but the level of care I have for those particular fights is lower than even a fight such as Sadollah vs. Kim.

      • Mark says:

        I know they did. But they weren’t just because they were drooling over Gina, they were also saying “Hey, this is a pretty fun fight.” The news story coming out of the first one wasn’t “Gina has nice boobies” or something, it was people mad it was stopped over nothing.

  8. frankp316 says:

    The whole lack of depth argument is a ridiculous red herring. Women’s MMA is like any other weight division. It can be built up over time. So when Dana White says that, he’s lying mainly so the media won’t bug him about women’s MMA. Is it a mistake for him not to promote women’s MMA just because he doesn’t like it? It’s a small mistake because he’s done such a good job of building the UFC brand but it is a mistake to leave an opening for other promotions like Strikeforce and Bellator. It’s a niche and they’re taking advantage of it.

    Scott Coker knows this and said yesterday that the 135lb women’s tournament will start no later than Aug. 15. Sarah Kaufman will fight in late July possibly against Roxanne Modafferi. There won’t be a 145lb tournament for the forseeable future. As I said last year when he first proposed a 145lb tournament, there’s not enough talent to do a tournament in that weight class. Is Coker having trouble with Showtime? Of course he is but he won’t admit it. The Kaufman/Hashi match didn’t help. Hashi was terrible. I’d seen her before and she was better at other times. She beat Amanda Buckner three years ago. But I’m sure Coker has told Ken Hershman to stop being short sighted about women’s MMA and Coker is clearly aware of the criticism and is responding accordingly.

    And you don’t want to forget about Bellator. They’ve signed Megumi Fujii, Lisa Ward and Rosi Sexton. Fujii will debut on June 10. Ward will debut on June 17. Don’t know about Rosi yet. They will do a 115lb tournament in the fall.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      Built up from what? Where are they going to get the talent from? The majority of men come from wrestling and BJJ. Female Wrestling & BJJ is nearly non-existant across the world. There isn’t much female striking either.

      We have already seen that weight differences matter in female MMA. So if they really wanted to build up Women’s MMA, they would have to do it over 5 weight divisions:


      To build up a credible division, you really need about 20 or so decent fighters. Are you telling me that even if they built to infostructure, that they could come up with 100 solid female fighters?

      Why are people so blind to this. Nobody cares about women’s sports. If it was going to be done, it would have been done in either basketball, boxing, or soccer. Heck, the female soccer team had the entire nation watching them, and their sports league failed miserably. MMA is hardly the sport to change how America (and the rest of the world) treats female sports.

      • frankp316 says:

        There are plenty of female fighters all over the world especially in Japan. I don’t know why a pathetic troll like you bothers to comment on something that you clearly hate because it’s not UFC. You’re not fooling anyone.

        • Michaelthebox says:

          Female fighters all over the world? Please. Fightmatrix only bothers to rank 50 female fighters in the entire world. When you take into account the fact that their system integrates all fights that take place and as such move points up to the top, the fact that the highest ranking women’s fighter wouldn’t place in the top 10 in the men’s bantamweight division (by far the division with the lowest point totals) speaks volumes about how little competition there is among women.

          In essense, all of female MMA, across every weight class put together, has far less competition than the lowest men’s weight class other than flyweight. Thats pathetic.

  9. frankp316 says:

    Only because there are fewer opportunities. That’s what the UFC toadies don’t get. If offered the same opportunities in MMA as men, women’s MMA could be as lucrative as men’s MMA. Dana White is very shortsighted when he puts his own feelings over the growth of MMA as a business and his personal feelings will prevent him from having the monopoly that he clearly wants.

    • Michaelthebox says:

      Thats the same argument I shot down EARLIER IN THE COMMENTS. There used to be few opportunities for men, no big money in the sport. There is still very little money in the sport for 95% of the men who compete. Men still flock in anyway. There are thousands of men who obviously possess very little athletic talent and no future in the sport who give it a shot anyway, for the pure love of competition.

      If you’re gonna spout the same worthless arguments over and over, don’t bother, because you add zilch to the conversation.

      • Zach Arnold says:

        There used to be few opportunities for men, no big money in the sport. There is still very little money in the sport for 95% of the men who compete. Men still flock in anyway. There are thousands of men who obviously possess very little athletic talent and no future in the sport who give it a shot anyway, for the pure love of competition.

        And it’s the riches of the 5% who can make 6-figures or more a year that drives men who normally would pursue other careers in real life, jobs that pay a legitimate salary, to stick in MMA.

        Right now, where is that carrot for the women in the game? There isn’t that carrot there. The few who do get booked on a semi-major level get paid peanuts compared to the men. This is the point I’ve been making all along — raise the stakes, give the women more exposure, and you’ll attract women who may have not considered entering MMA to actually do so.

        • frankp316 says:

          And this is precisely why Dana White saying there’s lack of depth in women’s MMA is an excuse, not a reason. Because UFC is the biggest MMA company, unless they offer women the opportunity to fight in the UFC the depth will never be there. His real reason is he doesn’t like watching it but he now knows he can’t say that anymore because it’s not a reason either. He has a bad habit of letting his personal feelings get in the way of common sense business decisions. And given the opportunity, women could be just as lucrative as anything the UFC already does and it could increase his marklet share. It doesn’t make business sense for him to allow Strikeforce & Bellator to have that niche because he doesn’t like watching it. Like his hero Vince McMahon, Dana White is a very smart guy who can be very stupid about some things. And women’s MMA is one of those things.

        • Michaelthebox says:

          There was a time when there were few or no men making 6 figures or more. Furthermore, only the high-end athletes choose MMA over other sports because of the wealth involved: most men who compete MMA have no expectations of wealth in MMA, just as they have no expectation of wealth in other sports. The sport is filled with men who entered during the dark period for Zuffa and who didn’t know about Pride. They entered the sport because they liked the sport and wanted to compete.

          Of course you COULD attract more women by raising the stakes. However, even by doing so, you’ll never have anywhere near the amount of depth in the women’s game that you have in the men’s game. There are many ways to make money that don’t involve competing and being hit in the face. The vast majority of men in this sport are in it because they like it. All the women in the sport are in it because they like it too.

          Can you realistically argue that most of the men in the sport are in it for the money? You can fill top-250 lists with guys who clearly don’t have the athleticism or the talent to ever have a winning record, but they fight anyway. Where are the hordes of women who fight because they damn well want to?

          Hint: women don’t get the social benefits to being an MMA fighter that men do, and no amount of carrots will change that.

  10. frankp316 says:

    The 115 and 135 weight classes already have enough depth but the UFC wouldn’t need the same depth for women as with the men’s classes. And it can be developed once they’re integrated. It doesn’t change that Dana White’s blanket statement about depth in women’s MMA is a lame excuse and not his real reason anyway. He’s lying. And you have no response for that because you know it’s true.

  11. Tradition Rules says:

    Here is MY personal take on this:

    Would I like to see more women’s MMA?

    Yes,…if the fights are competative and interesting.

    And it is true that men’s MMA has BJJ and wrestling as well as a few other competative martial-arts to draw from.

    Women COULD be drawn from some of those same copetative martial arts (Judo, Karate-do, some kickboxing),…but the lent pool would still not have the same depth.

    NOT because they are women, but just because men naturally seem to have more of an interst in combat sports, on either the amature competative level of professional level, fans as either a fan or participant.

    But I believe ir could be sucessful, in some way more then other women’s professional sports. Reason being that MMA fans are such a niche audience in itself, most would not discriminate. But with the mainstream fans who just tune in from time to time,it would be a turn off for the most part. 🙁

    I had read that Dana was interested in signing Gina, but with StrikeForce’s purchase of Elite XC’s contracts that killed that.

    I also believe that Dana would consider a women’s division if there was enough interest in it, even if he personally has no interst in it.

    But with UFC trying to get back into New York State, a few other states as well and especially into Canada, it is viewed as a liability ,….if even only just for now.

    As I originally said, I personally would enjoy a competitive women’s division. And I do believe it is possible.

    As Frank said “There are plenty of female fighters all over the world ESPECIALLY IN JAPAN”…but without enough strong female fighters from the U.S., I don’t know how much good that would do for women’s MMA,… for right or wrong.(I would watch them though,…ever seen a Megumi Yabushita fight?)

    But is it UFC’s responibility to promote it?

    No, I don’t believe so,…

    • frankp316 says:

      There’s already enough fan and media interest in a women’s division. That’s why White changed his reason for not doing it. He was only interested in Gina as a one shot. He won’t do it ever or he would have done it already. He’s letting his personal feelings get in the way of busuness, a cardinal mistake in the fight business.


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