Women’s MMA didn’t start with Ronda Rousey. Pioneer promoters like Jeff Osborne of Hook-N-Shoot were putting on all-women fight cards in the early 2000’s. Elite XC put women’s fighting on mainstream television and built the public’s interest in seeing females fight. Gina Carano became the face of women’s MMA while competing in Elite XC. Strikeforce picked up when Elite XC fell off and made fighters like Cris Cyborg, Miesha Tate, and Rousey household names.
Not too long ago, UFC president Dana White was reluctant about bringing women’s fighting into the Octagon. He once famously said that women would never fight in the UFC as long as he was there. In November 2012, Rousey became the first female fighter signed by the fight promotion. There are now four women’s divisions featured in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
“I wasn’t going to do the women’s thing in MMA. I didn’t think it would work. It’s on (expletive) fire,” said White while visiting The Ultimate Fighter 26 cast. “It’s like a rocket ship right now.”
Women’s MMA has come a long way from regional promotions to MMA’s biggest stage. Invicta Fighting Championships formed in 2012 featuring an all-female roster. But not long ago, women didn’t have the option of being a full-time fighter. Today, women’s fighting is as popular as their opposite gender.
“There are people that were in this sport when you made nothing, that it cost them money to be involved in this sport. You’re in a day and a time now where, nevermind the (expletive) men, the women are making millions of dollars. That’s the place where we are now.
“You look at all these other sports, women don’t make what the men make. Women don’t make anywhere near (the men). Women made more in this (expletive) sport than the men,” said the UFC president.
(Video courtesy of The Ultimate Fighter | Viewing may be limited by broadcast rights restrictions)