Mixed martial arts, as an all-round sports package, is still a relatively new phenomenon compared to most other major sports around the world. Since the introduction of the UFC in late 1993, the public has grown to love it. As such, the sport has grown exponentially, and, as fans, we have been treated to the emergence of female fighters with it. In fact, female MMA fighters attract huge audiences and have become household names over the years.
Japan is a country that initially attempted to have a female fighting scene on its shores before we eventually saw women battling it out on the major stage in 2013, when Zuffa and Strikeforce joined forces to put on a memorable and historic event. Since then, the UFC has been formed, and what was once a male-dominated sport is now housing some of the top female bouts around, alongside the likes of Bellator MMA. The fans are loving it, too. Recent match-ups between Marina Rodriguez and Michelle Waterson, in which Jeff Fox, writing for MansionBet, called the Women’s Flyweight fight correctly with the “bigger, stronger, and more powerful striker” in Rodriguez coming out on top, proved to be popular with fans despite the clash being put on at such short notice. This was a fight between two fierce competitors, but there are and have been much bigger stars in the fighting game. When they go to war, especially when you factor in the pre-fight hype and press conference antics, the appeal can grow further.
Female fighters have well and truly immersed themselves in the fight game. Of course, no sport is perfect and not all female fighters are happy with certain aspects of the UFC, for example, but with stars like Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes and Valentina “Bullet” Shevchenko flying the flag, there are personalities in the pack who will be hoping to emulate some of their past and current fighters, while also enabling the female fight scene to grow further in the process. Below is a look at some former and current fighters, from whom the likes of Nunes and Shevchenko can draw inspiration from.
A former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion, and a former professional boxer and kickboxer, Holly Holm is a relatively big name in the female fight game after she defended her titles 18 times in three different weight classes putting on some spectacular shows in the process. Arguably her most memorable victory was when she defeated Ronda Rousey in just her third fight to claim the Bantamweight crown. Past her best these days, most sports fans know who Holly Holm is. She has had a remarkable career overall.
Despite never fighting in the UFC, Satoko Shinashi is a Japanese mixed martial arts fighter many people in the UFC and outside of it are aware of. Known for her judo, sambo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but while also being a master of submission, she was unstoppable in her prime and has paved the way for many other Japanese fighters. Shinashi has a record of 34 wins, 2 losses, and 1 draw.
Back to the UFC and Ronda Rousey, who is arguably the biggest female fighter the competition has ever seen. Alongside her domination of the Bantamweight division, Rousey became the first female fighter to win an Olympic medal in judo. Not everyone adores Rousey, but nobody can deny the massive impact she has had on the sport.
A UFC Women’s Featherweight Champion and a Strikeforce Women’s Featherweight Champion, alongside a whole host of other accomplishments, Cris Justino is a tough competitor who is now dominating the Bellator Women’s Featherweight scene. Her most impressive wins came against the likes of Holly Holm, Gina Carano, and Julia Budd.
There really are a multitude of female fighters that we can thank for pushing the industry forward. We may write more of these "tip of the hat" articles.