As obsessed as I’ve become with watching it, mixed martial arts isn’t a topic that has ever graced the creative craft-, style-, and food-filled pages of mousybabe. But today, a post about MMA is warranted because, well, it’s about girls who kick some serious ass — something we celebrate above all here at MB.
The UFC’s 2nd-ever women’s MMA fight went down on Saturday — “Miesha Tate vs. Cat Zingano” — and I am giddy as a little girl (OK fine, I really am a little girl). I have to say it was one of the most exciting battles that I’ve seen (and I’ve seen my share of MMA fights in the last few years, thanks to my judoka and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu aficionado of a husband). The coveted “Fight of the Night” award went to Tate v. Zingano, which turned out to be a seriously hair-raising tornado of a bout with knees to faces, vicious elbows, take downs, near-submissions, and more. Have yourself a little peek HERE.
Both women had a LOT on the line: the winner would get to make history and become one of two first-ever female coaches on The Ultimate Fighter show, opposite Ronda Rousey, the U.S. Olympic judo medalist and queen of the armbar submission who first got this party started (it was her meteoric starpower and talent that convinced a skeptical UFC President Dana White to give women’s MMA a chance to shine in the UFC). In fact, IMHO… Tate and Zingano showed up all of the men on the rest of the fight card by putting on the most fast-paced, grueling, no holds barred fight of the night. In a male-dominated sport, that’s um, pretty durned amazing. Zingano was the underdog, but ground out a pretty spectacular third-round technical knockout (TKO) and major upset. (And she’s someone’s mom too, mad props!). Mostly importantly, the fight passed the bigger test — that yes, women’s MMA is exciting to watch and that yeah, people want more!
Meanwhile across the Atlantic that same day, my No. 1 favorite female fighter, Jo Jo Calderwood, threw down in Cage Warriors (Europe’s top MMA fight club) and got her arm raised with an impressive Round 1 TKO. I can’t get over how cool this Scottish lassie is. So unassumingly badass, humble, and tough as nails — all rolled into one adorably feisty fighter with a pair of lethal knees and elbows. When you watch her interviews, she talks just like a little girl, almost diffidently. But when she steps in the cage, goddamn, girl. (You know the best ones are always the quiet ones). She holds a record of 19-2 as a Muay Thai fighter. And like the UFC card, it was her fight (the only women’s bout on the card) that really raised the roof in the building.
Anyway, seeing women break new ground in business, politics, or elsewhere in the ‘professional’ world is always fantastic. But when it happens in an industry that is still as overwhelmingly male-dominated and testosterone-filled as MMA, it’s especially special to watch it unfold. It’s a reminder that world-class athletes out there include women with enormous talent, grit, and amazing chins, and that martial arts ain’t just for the boys. In fact, I’d argue that, at this point in time, women’s MMA probably has the potential to do more for the sport of MMA than men — giving women a bigger stage in this sport would challenge the notion that MMA is just about throwing a pair of brawler dudes in a cage and watching them tear each other apart. It’s a legitimate, highly technical form of competition that showcases some of the most elite among elite athletes around the world, who apply dedicated discipline in mastering their skills and technical prowess. If women’s MMA catches on, it also has the potential to broaden the appeal of the sport beyond the stereotypcial demographic — less of the blood-thirsty, beer-chugging, meathead alpha males from Miami sporting TapOut tshirts … and perhaps more 5’0″, twiggy-armed Asian girls like me 😉
So, ladies. Instead of getting our panties in a bunch over the oft-contentious postulations about whether we oughta “lean in” more, or why we can’t really “have it all” between work and life, or about the merits of “Machiavellian” vs. “Tiger” motherhood… how about we stop for a sec to shine a nice spotlight on a class of women (mothers among them) who are showing the world how to kick some ass … literally?
And the next time someone says, “You fight like a girl,” you can say, “Why, thank you!”