Brock Masters is a senior at the University of Central Missouri that is studying Digital Media Proudction and Marketing. He works for KMOS-TV and the University of Central Missouri Alumni Foundation. He has made a number of short films throughout his career. He also maintains his own blog that covers the reality TV shows Survivor and Big Brother.
For many years, women’s sports have never gained as much as sports that are dominated by males. They were shunned and cast off. One of the few sports that they have been able to gain some traction in is mixed martial arts. In February 2013, now household name Ronda Rousey competed in the first ever UFC (the biggest company in MMA) women’s title fight where she put away Liz Carmouche via arm bar. Rousey went on an incredible run where she continued to dominate the Octagon until she hit a brick wall in Holly Holm in November of 2015. During this time however another dominate champion was emerging at the 115lb weight class, Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
When Ronda Rousey lost to Holly Holm, Joanna had already defended her belt 3 times with one these being on the actual fight card that Rousey lost on. Rousey disappeared and it looked like Holm was going to take the mantle as the face of women’s MMA. That was until she lost to Meisha Tate during her first title defense and continued to lose afterwards. Rousey was nowhere to be seen, Holm was losing, and women’s MMA has looked bleak ever since. However, Jedrzejczyk is still defending her belt two or three times a year and is dominating every single fight she is in. However, she is not getting the same attention that Rousey or Holm ever got. Why is that?
She is a small, Polish, woman
The UFC has always had a tough time marketing smaller fighters and for their business model, it doesn’t help that she is both that and a woman. For years, she was the “other” women’s champion behind Rousey. Now that Rousey is gone, the UFC needs to be marketing her in every way possible. She can talk trash with the best of them even though she is Polish. The way she picks apart her opponents is very similar to the way Floyd Mayweather picks people apart in the boxing ring. In fact, many MMA experts have even said that she is the best striker in the entire UFC. She also isn’t a bad looking woman either.
She is the clear choice to be the face of Women’s MMA, yet it hasn’t happened and it will probably continue to happen unless one of two things happen. The UFC just established a 125lb weight class and Jonna has expressed interest in moving up to that weight class to attempt to become the first woman ever to hold two UFC titles at the same time; something only one male has ever accomplished in the sports history. If she can accomplish that, then that might propel her to stardom. The other thing that needs to happen is Rousey needs to retire. She came back and got embarrassed by Amanda Nunes. All signs point to her now being done with the sport, yet she hasn’t made anything official. As long as she doesn’t, her shadow will loom large over the UFC and she will always be the topic of conversation.
The UFC needs to make the move now though and put all their eggs in the “Joanna Champion” bucket. It is time for there to be a new face of Women’s MMA and it just isn’t fair that she is getting pushed to the side while Rousey and all of the male fighters continue to be in headlines. She is the best female fighter in the world and she will continue to be as long as she keeps winning. She has done great things for women in MMA and it is time for that to be recognized.
What other women aren’t recognized enough in sports?