This article was originally posted at jiMMA.
The Strikeforce female bantamweight champion, Miesha Tate and the contender for that title, Ronda Rousey sat down with press yesterday to discuss their March 3rd fight. Both women are clearly relishing the limelight and it is wonderful to see women's mixed martial arts firmly in the spotlight. As a fan of women's MMA though, the thing that struck me most was the patronizing attitude both fighters seemed to have towards fans. Tate and Rousey feel that for men to watch women fight, the fighters have to be beautiful enough to catch their eyes. This attitude is also reflected in Stikeforce's marketing of the fight.
On the one hand, it is incredibly heartening to see such a professional production in connection to women's fighting but it is also worrying that we are being asked to watch two beautiful women rather than two brilliant fighters. Female fighters and fans must be fed up with the patronizing idea that these girls can fight, even though they are beautiful women. But watching the video below, it is clear that male fans are being treated in an equally shallow way.
Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate are beautiful women with great presence which is evident both in the Strikeforce promo video and the media event video. They are also just trying to make the most out of an opportunity to make good money out of a sport which most women struggle to pay the bills with. Tate makes the point that clearly most MMA fans are men and that to garner their interest in women's MMA they first need to have their heads turned by pretty female fighters.
I believe it is a mistake to promote this massive fight based on the looks of the athletes rather than their skills as fighters but what irks me most in this is the presumption that men could only be interested in women fighting if they are beautiful. It is unfair and short sighted to cast male MMA fans as meat-headed fools desperate to see either blood or boobs. Regardless of gender, I feel like MMA fans are better than that. MMA fans are fans of fighting and Rousey and Tate are good fighters. That is already very marketable.
I would like to see a new Strikeforce promotional video which features Miesha Tate choking out Marloes Coenen or Ronda Rousey tapping out Julia Budd. Fans of fighting, men or women, will tune in to watch good fighters fight, regardless of how they look.