MMA Root

Women’s MMA And Society: Unequal Opportunity Employers

Women should be given the same opportunities as men to fight professionally for equal pay. One reason for these inequalities is society ‘s deep thinking about gender roles and the perceived disabilities of women as defenders not just as carers. I am demanding that these roles be redefined so that a woman has a fair and equal opportunity in the world of martial arts and beyond.

As a woman who likes to fight, I often wonder why society as a whole doesn’t take women’s professional and amateur fights seriously (or at least equal to men’s fighting). For me and women around the world, it’s just like any other sport, we fully dedicate ourselves, we learn, we train hard, and we put in the same amount of hard work with the people.

Here are some reasons why I think female fighters are not getting the respect they deserve:

– It’s hard to see a woman being beaten

– Women are nurturers and caretakers, not fighters

– People find it hard to be passionate about seeing two women fighting

– For men, it is significant to hurt their partner

– Women’s fighting doesn’t bring in the money

– Society wants girls to be attracted

All of these are legitimate concerns; the bigger picture, however, is that if a woman has a passion for martial arts then nothing and / or no one should stand in her way. She should be given the same opportunities to pursue her dreams as much as any man can. Yes, there are martial arts and MMA schools all over the globe but I truly know that when a woman walks in after a man the reactions are very different.

I also understand that it’s mostly about money and in the case of women’s fighting, money doesn’t speak.

“Gina Carano was the first female contestant to bank six figures on a U.S. disclosure card, according to figures released by the California State Athletic Commission Tuesday.”

The “women’s MMA face” earned $ 125,000 in its knock-on technical loss in the first round for Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos last Saturday at Strikeforce in San Jose, Calif. Santos, thrilled as Strikeforce’s (145-pound) female lightweight champion, earned $ 25,000, which included a $ 5,000 victory bonus. “[1]

At “UFC: 142” the salaries of the top three men were as follows:

“The Brazilian Athletic Commission does not release fighter pay information, so none of the following salary details are official.

Vitor Belfort: $ 279,000 ($ 275,000 to display, $ 4,000 from Anthony Johnson’s wallet)

Edson Barboza: $ 142,000 ($ 6,000 to show, $ 6,000 win bonus, $ 65,000 Fight of the Night bonus, $ 65,000 Knockout of the Night bonus)

Gabriel Gonzaga: $ 134,000 ($ 67,000 to display, $ 67,000 win bonus) “[2]

I believe the inconsistencies are primarily due to social stigmas, including the ones I mentioned above, until inherent dogma is keeping people from “getting into” this sport. It has been proven at the beginning of the UFC that there is money to be made in martial arts and just as boxing has performed well and consistently throughout history, the UFC still has a huge impact. There are a few organizations that give women the opportunity to engage in professional rounds on TV in the US, Strikeforce and Bellator, but the payment for the winner is not compared to what the men get and the fate of Strikeforce remains to be decided since purchase most recently with, Zuffa (a company owned by the UFC). Also, Strikeforce only has 2 weight divisions for women pushing the pool of talented fighters into a pin hole, thereby alienating an excellent group of women.


This movement must start from the ground up; on the fundamental ways in which society views women. I believe the focus must be on the self-defense side versus the sports side. If we teach and encourage girls and young women to gain power through their own ability to defend, society will accept that our women are capable of doing great things equal to men. To improve girls’ chances of maintaining equality, schools should incorporate self-protection for all children 6 years and older so that they can learn how to protect themselves in a controlled environment while being taught respect and discipline. Ultimately this could lead to fewer crimes against women and an overall redefinition of gender roles.

Until this revolution happens, their business will continue as usual and we will continue to “shoot” where most people don’t want us to go leaving a legacy of inequality for our girls … kind of unacceptable, or do you think?

[1] Hunt, Loretta. “Carano makes $ 125,000.” August 18, 2009.

[2] Fox, Jeff. “UFC Fighter Salaries.” January 15, 2012

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