Julie Kedzie's nose bleeds again, and her hair's a mess. Wisps of it have come free from her tight cornrows. She works hard to catch her breath.
Still, the professional mixed martial arts fighter beams like a cheerleader at the top of the pyramid. It's a clear case of "You should see the other guy."
The referee has called a stop to Kedzie's fight with Julia Berezekova at the Ice Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia. The packed venue erupts as Kedzie raises her arms in victory.
And so begins an article by my friend, Susan Brackney (non-pdf version here). I point the article out because not only is this a focus piece on women's MMA, but it can be found in an issue of Indianapolis Woman.
Brackney's article is more the exception to the rule at this point, but I believe MMA has a certain appeal towards women that isn't available through other sports. You don't have the complex rules of traditonal stick-and-ball sports. (note: I am not a sexist, nor do I believe women are incapable of understanding what goes on at a sporting event. However, our culture heavily leans sports towards men, and if you don't grow up watching sports, it's harder to understand what is going on. For instance, most Americans have no idea what is going on in a cricket match, male of female. End defensive rant.) Fighters aren't covered head-to-toe like in football and, to an extent, baseball. While it's as violent as boxing, you don't have many scenarios where guys get knocked down and get back up over-and-over making even the most manly of men squirmish.
While old-school boxing guys may see the grappling element of MMA as two guys rolling around in pseudo-homo erotic lovemaking, I believe it is exactly what attracts females to the sport over boxing. No longer are you simply watching two guys swinging at each other (an obvious oversimplification of the sweet science), but you are watching a highly strategic fight with a lot more visually obvious skill and technique.
I hope this article is part of a continuing trend of women becoming involved with MMA. Speaking strictly economically, you're adding a gigantic largely-untapped market getting women interested in the sport. Plus, who wouldn't want their girlfriend to sit down and watch some fighting rather than getting glares for sitting on the couch all day on Sunday?