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The History of Women’s MMA

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: History of women's MMA

Special to Chicago’s MMA

Nowadays, women’s performances in MMA have become commonplace, but 10 years ago no one would have imagined that fights between ladies would become so popular. In this article, mma.metaratings.ru will discuss the emergence of women’s mixed martial arts.

How it all started

Many will be surprised, but the first competition in mixed martial arts for women took place in Japan in the mid-1990s. It was here that the only major female MMA promotion at the time, Smackgirl, was launched in 2001, and the country also hosted Ladies Legend Pro-Wrestling, U-Top Tournament, K-Grace, and AX.

Before the success of the reality show The Ultimate Fighter, which made mixed martial arts popular, women’s fights received little coverage in the United States. Among the organizations that, at an early stage in the popularization of MMA, invited women to fight competitions, are the International Fighting Championships, SuperBrawl, King of the Cage, Rage in the Cage, Ring of Combat, Bas Rutten Invitational, HOOKnSHOOT and others. The first recorded female MMA fight in the United States took place at IFC 4 in March 1997. Then the American women Becky Levi and Betty Fagan fought with each other. Soon after, in September 1997, in Baton Rouge, USA, an IFC Fighting Tournament was held with four female competitors.

In European MMA, the girls started competing in It’s Showtime, Shooto Europe, Cage Warriors, and M-1 Global promotions.

The first girls in MMA

Ronda Rousey was the first girl to make women’s MMA popular. In November 2012, she signed with the UFC and became the first women’s bantamweight champion of the promotion. This paved the way for other athletes. Already in December 2013, the UFC signed a contract with 11 more female fighters, including Felice Herrig, Claudia Gadelha, Tecia Torres, Bec Hyatt, Joanne Calderwood, Carla Esparza, and others.

Rousey made her first title defense in February 2013 at UFC 157 against Liz Carmouche, subbing her in the first round. Rousey defended her title for the second time, subbing Miesha Tate at UFC 168 in December 2013. In February 2014, she entered the title bout against Sarah McMann at UFC 170. Ronda also won that fight by TKO.

From July 2014 to August 2015, Rousey had three successful defenses of the UFC bantamweight title. She lost the belt only in November 2015 in a fight against Holly Holm, which took place at the UFC 193 tournament in November 2015. Ronda lost to her opponent by knockout in the second round.

Rousey’s last fight as a professional was the title fight against then-Brazilian bantamweight belt holder Amanda Nunes. The fight took place at UFC 207 in December 2016. The American was defeated by a technical knockout. Rousey has 13 wins and two losses in mixed martial arts.

The other female fighters who were among the first to get the general public on television were Gina Carano and Cristiane Justino. Their fight took place at Strikeforce in August 2009 and garnered over 850,000 pay-per-views. At the time it was a record for a women’s fight. Justino won the fight by TKO.

Differences between the rules of women’s MMA and men’s MMA

The rules for women’s and men’s bouts are the same. The number and length of rounds are the same, and the techniques permitted and prohibited are also identical. The only difference is the number of weight classes. For women they are four divisions: strawweight (under 52 kg), flyweight (under 57 kg), bantamweight (under 61 kg) and featherweight (under 66 kg). However, in some organizations, there are deviations from this rule. The Japanese promotion Rizin FC, for example, organizes women fights including the heavyweight.

It is stipulated that women’s outfit must include a top that covers the breasts and female competitors’ hair must be pulled back so as not to interfere during the bout.

The future of Women’s MMA

Women’s fights are becoming more and more popular every year. The level of training of female competitors is growing and the competition is increasing. Based on this, we can assume that female MMA fans will see even more interesting fights in the future.

About Matt Lo Cascio

Matt Lo Cascio is a former TV producer who turned to new media in 2005, and he is the co-founder and editor of Chicago's MMA. He is also the play-by-play announcer for the XFO. His work has been published by ESPN.com, DraftKings, The Comeback, FanSided and more.

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