Gina Carano Brought Women in MMA Front and Center
Dana White made some news in a recent chat session when he said he didn't see women fighting in the UFC anytime soon.
Or as he put it: "I'm not a huge fan of women fighting. Period."
And although he took some heat for the comments, I don't necessarily disagree with him.
Now, before I'm labeled a misogynist — and God forbid — a woman-hater, you must understand that it's simply a matter of preference. I, in no way, would support a boycott of women MMA fighters, and I have absolutely no problem if that's the career they choose. In fact, I don't even have a problem with the people who watch and support them. But it's just not for me.
Of course, there's no denying the popularity and fascination with female MMA fighters. I recently teased a past episode of MSNBC's "Warrior Nation," and the mention of Gina Carano resulted in a traffic surge that still hasn't worn off. In fact, that name dwarfs 95 percent of the search terms for male fighters we have here at MMAjunkie.com. And it was only one lousy story.
But now, thanks to this weekend's Elite Extreme Combat (EliteXC) event in Southaven, Miss. (which will be broadcast on Showtime), the debate about women in MMA has once again heated up. Carano, after all, will meet Julie Kedzie on the televised portion of the card tomorrow and bring women's MMA to a national audience.
As Denny Burkholder reported today at CBS Sportsline.com:
While MMA gains momentum on the heels of UFC's rise in popularity, there are still a lot of people resistant to the idea of women's MMA. The reactions have been mixed at some of Carano's fights.
"Half of the people are fascinated, and then half the people are just kind of judgmental about it, most of those being guys in the sport," Carano said…
Training with men is not a problem for Carano. The problem, she said, is proving to some of those men that she belongs there.
"At first they look at you kind of crooked, like 'What are you doing in here?' They almost want to be like 'Do you really want to do this? Let's see if you really want to do this.' So you have to go through the pressure of being the new person, also female. Once they see that you're serious and you've actually got some skill, then those people's opinions change. It's really a beautiful thing, because they see it more as a sport, and not just a female trying to fight."
In Carano's opinion, the idea that women are the "weaker sex" has given some men the false impression that women are in more danger than men are when they step into a cage or ring for a fight.
"Guys are just real protective over females for some reason," she said. "At least some of the guys I know. Here's what I think: I don't think they can handle the pressure of not being able to save the female. She's got to fight her own battle, you know?"
And maybe she's right. Or maybe guys — the kind with mothers and sisters — just can't take the thought of seeing a woman hit in the face and battered around.
I think the other major concern for someone like me (who considers himself a fairly informed and worldly fan) is that women's MMA is still oftentimes promoted as a sideshow where good-looking female fighters are often much bigger stars than their otherwise more-talented peers. It's the same dilemma that women's boxing faced (until perhaps Laila Ali really rose to prominence).
Until women's MMA is legit — where performance and talent are valued more than attractiveness — that segment of the sport is never going to feel kosher to me. And that may never happen — at least not with an audience that remains predominantly male.
In any manner, I wouldn't count on the UFC ushering in female fighters anytime soon — at least not without a whole lot of debate and very carefully crafted publicity around it.
Anyway, this is definitely one of those posts in which I want to hear some feedback.
What do you guys (and gals) think about the subject? Would you favor women fighting in the UFC? Is something you'd want to see? Is it something you'd at least tolerate? How would it impact the UFC's image overall? Could the UFC recover from the initial criticism? Is it even worth the gamble, considering the UFC's hard and long struggle to hit the fringes of mainstream sports?
Consider the topic open for debate.
Article originally posted by MMAJunkie and Dann Stupp on Feb 09, 2007