Women's MMA: Give It the Respect It Deserves

Justin FauxCorrespondent IAugust 18, 2010

As a loaded weekend of mixed martial arts action came to a close, we look back and what do we all remember? Was it the exciting action put forward by the 135-lbs girls on the Strikeforce card? Or was it the return to American soil of the pound-for-pound queen of women's MMA?

For many of you out there the answer to this will be "No." Following the conclusion of the Strikeforce event I visited various fight communities expecting to read about the heart displayed by Miesha Tate or the slick submission attempts by Hitomi Akano.

Instead what I found were a series of discussions relating to the attractive features of the likes of Meisha Tate and Carina Damm.

What ever happened to respecting female athletes for their god-given ability to compete? But the MMA community are not alone—in every sport women are objectified and treated as lesser than their male counter parts.

But these women don't just fight for the respect of the fight community, they fight for a living—this is how they support their families and put food on their tables.

Let's look back to the most recent UFC pay-per-view, UFC 117 headlined by Anderson Silva defending his UFC middleweight title against Chael Sonnen. Silva left with $200,000 and Hughes left with $300,000 following his submission of the night bonus.

The lowest paid athletes on that show were Todd Brown, Christian Morecraft and Rodney Wallace who each left with a comfortable $6,000 for their losing efforts.

Now if we look at this past weekends Strikeforce: Challengers 10 event, the winner of the women's welterweight tournament Miesha Tate had to compete twice on that event to get the biggest pay day of her career, $18,000.

Mixed martial arts veteran Joe Riggs earned just $3,000 less than the top ten ranked 135-pound Tate for his lackluster unanimous decision victory over Louis Taylor.

The highest paid female combatant was Gina Carano for her first round TKO loss to Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos who picked up a whopping $125,000 for her headlining appearance in 2009.

And what is keeping woman's salaries so low in the MMA world? There are a number of answers to this question but it comes down to two main points.

1. The UFC does not host women's mixed martial arts bouts—it's no secret that the UFC are the biggest MMA organization on the planet, so much so that new comers to the sport tend to believe that the sport is called UFC.

Since they are the biggest organization out there, accordingly they are the organization that will pay out the highest salaries.

Now I am not arguing that if a women's division were added to the UFC line-up that we would see girls leaving with $400,000 salaries; however, it is more likely that they will be making bigger earnings working for the franchise of MMA.

2. Take it or leave it—it's a familiar story amongst female MMA fighters. They are placed in a situation where they can take a salary of as little as $1,500 for their months of hard work and training as well as their performance on the night, or they can not fight at all.

It might seem harsh,but promoters want to make as much money as they can so they have the opportunity to return to that venue, thus they will take advantage of the knowledge that women don't have many opportunities to compete and will do so for little money.

With EliteXC now out of the picture, the highest paying promoter out there for women in North America is Scott Coker and Strikeforce—the only issue with Strikeforce is they do not run events featuring women on a regular basis.

"Mixed martial arts is the fastest growing sport in the world," are the words that have come out of the mouth of Dana White and keyboard warriors all over the world, as the sport evolves we all need to accept that these are women, but they are also trained professionals who compete at the highest level possible.

These girls train just as hard as the men, usually right alongside them, and when it comes time for them to perform they make a habit of stealing the show. Why should these athletes do this for so little income and respect from the people who are supposed to support them?