Women’s MMA is one of the hottest commodities in the sport right now, with female pioneers such as Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate carrying the torch. It’s so hot that UFC President Dana White, who previously voiced no potential interest in bringing the ladies into the Octagon, has already signed nearly a dozen female competitors to the company and put on its first main event with Rousey and Liz Carmouche.

Further than that, Invicta FC has opened up shop as the premiere destination for women’s MMA of all divisions. In its four events so far (and soon to be five), the promotion has done huge streaming numbers. So much so that its first attempt at pay-per-view failed because the server couldn’t hold the amount of people trying to purchase the event stream.

Of course, the big name in all of this that hasn’t been mentioned yet is Bellator.

Bellator had a women’s tournament earlier in the company’s history, but that momentum has since fizzled. Whether because of an injury to inaugural champion Zoila Gurgel or a general move away from WMMA, Bellator failed to produce another tournament or many female fights in general. And when it did, the fights—even those featuring the champion—puzzlingly landed on the preliminary card.

But that was then, this is now.

In more recent times, Bellator has gathered a stable of signed female fighters that the promotion is using to try to revive interest in the division. With Felice Herrig, Jessica Eye and Jessica Aguilar, among others, the promotion has quietly put together an exciting group of ladies that can be of great marketability.

Obviously, Bellator doesn’t have the depth of talent that Invicta boasts, but it has some popular females and even adds local talent to the mix to some shows. Take, for example, Holly Holm. The New Mexico-based slugger and highly decorated professional boxer was featured on the Bellator card this season in Albuquerque and received one of the biggest ovations of the night, if not the biggest. In addition, the pro boxer and up-and-coming mixed martial artist received a generous amount of media coverage leading up to and during her fight.

If that example isn’t enough, Bellator signed social media and fighting star Felice Herrig and insists on promoting her to its audience. This is extremely smart, as she is not only a darling to her committed followers on Twitter, but she has the personality and fight style to help continue building WMMA within Bellator.

Bellator also possesses two of the top females in the world in the lighter weight classes.

Jessica Aguilar is arguably the best strawweight in the world and is exclusive to the Bellator promotion. She consistently clawed her way to the top, but solidified her status with a shocking defeat of longtime top dog Megumi Fujii in her latest outing.

Another lady under Bellator contract that is turning into a draw is Jessica Eye. Though she has been forced out of her next bout due to injury (she was slated to face another Bellator vet in Munah Holland), she has received a great show of support from fans. Her popularity came in dethroning the female face of the company that was Zoila Gurgel, who is now with Invicta.

The problem that fans foresee is that we will see more fights from the ladies, but it will fail to amount to anything significant. Gurgel claimed her title after winning the women’s tournament, but she failed to defend it, with her fights since then coming in a different weight class, and the division minimized. Bellator mostly features 115- and 125-pound women, though Holm was a 135er.

For now, the ladies remain a special attraction. With the growth of the sport, there are bound to be more competitive women arising that Bellator will need to get its hands on, especially at strawweight and flyweight. It is important that the promotion finds talent, puts together a tournament and crowns a champion, otherwise the divisions will be meaningless. Women’s MMA in Bellator cannot survive and be an attraction unless the company realizes the need to commit to the divisions in the long run.

Photo: Felice Herrig (top) battles Patricia Vidonic (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

About The Author

Riley Kontek
Staff Writer

Riley Kontek is a Chicago-land native that has been an addict of mixed martial arts since the first Chuck Liddell-Tito Ortiz encounter. He has been writing on MMA for the last year and is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA. In addition to that, he used to host a weekly radio show on MMA. Though he has no formal training in mixed martial arts, Riley is a master in the art of hockey fighting.

  • robby edwards

    jessica agulliar, got a gift, megumi beat her in all the current scoring criteria, if it was any other org except the corrupt bellator, megumi would ofvwon the dec, megumi got ripped off twice by this corrupt org. I say they are corrupt, because their ceo bjork rebney, i know his name is bjorn, but anyway this guy was under investigation for fght fixing in boxing, and do younreally believe he has changed, ha ha, its so disgusting the mma media states things like “she soldified her status with her shocking defeat of megumi, ” IT WAS SHOCKING BECAUSE MEGUMI BEAT THE SHIT OUT OF JAG! YET SOMEHOW JAG GOT GIVEN A GIFT! BOGUSTHE REAL REASON AFTER THE ORIGINAL TOURNAMENT THAT THERE WASNT INTEREST! WAS BECAUSE EVERYONE WAS DISGUSTED THAT FIRST JAG THEN MEGUMI GOT RIPPED OFF AND FRAUSTO WAS GIVEN GIFTS! THEN A COUOLE YRSVLATER THEY GIVE JAG A GIFT! WHEN THE REAL WOMENS CHAMP AND ARGUABLY THE BEST PD PER PD FEMALE FIGHTER MEGUMI FUJII