Nov. 30th, 2013 was a historic day in the world of MMA. Sure, we know that the UFC crowned its first-ever women’s Ultimate Fighter, Julianna Pena, after she scored a TKO of Jessica Rakoczy with one second left in the first round of their fight. That was a historic event in and of itself, but believe it or not, there was something bigger that took place on that night, and you may not have even noticed it.

Watching women fight in the Octagon has become almost second nature now, due to the fact that we’re rapidly approaching the one-year anniversary of the first women’s fight in the UFC. Even though the promotion is holding more and more events, it feels as though there is at least one women’s fight each card, making it more normal than ever. But that particular night of the TUF finale marked the first time in history that there were more women’s fight on the main card than men’s, by a count of three to two.

In terms of marketing for sports, this is a big deal. When was the last time you honestly watched female sporting events? The occasional big college basketball game between the University of Connecticut and the University of Tennessee draws decent numbers because of the quality of the game, but you don’t see networks fighting over the WNBA or other random women’s college basketball games. Other than the Olympic games, rarely do sports fans tune into women’s sports.

Just think about it. Watching a UFC event is about a five- to six-hour commitment, if you go out of your way to catch the undercards. That’s roughly the equivalent of taking in an NFL Sunday. Could you imagine getting to the feature game of the week after watching the early games and have women run out onto the field? Not only that, could you then imagine not changing the channel? Or if the NBA and WNBA were to come to an agreement that at the end of each quarter of play, the other gender would take the court? The ratings would drop drastically when the women took the court.

In all reality, that night was a special situation to begin with. Coming off of the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter, cast members are normally scheduled to take on one another in the Octagon at the finale, and in this case, it was a cast with women. These particular women were the ones that were featured on the show, and the promotion dedicated a lot of air time to them. But with eight men’s divisions to the one current lone women’s division, it doesn’t look like there will be another chance of this anytime soon. It is, however, a major step for not only women’s mixed martial arts, but women’s athletics. The creation of the women’s strawweight division helps the numbers in favor of the women, and perhaps its finale will indeed be the next female-dominated card, but that season of the reality show is still months away from taping and even further from completion, meaning that it will be a long time before we see another card that has more women’s fights than men’s fights in the main card.

With women in the UFC, it has been a matter of baby steps. President Dana White said back in late 2011 that women would never fight in the UFC. Nearly two full years later, the very same promotion aired a main card that showed three women’s fight versus two men’s bouts. It may not seem like much considering that it was a card that aired on Fox Sports 1, but for advocates of women’s mixed martial arts, it was a victory.

Anyone who is rallying for a cause will tell you, they’ll take any victory they can get. And on Nov. 30th, the women scored a major victory.

Photo: Juliana Pena (top) (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

Brian McKenna
Staff Writer

Brian McKenna was born and raised in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts. A sports nut from as long as he can remember, he came to be a fan of Mixed Martial Arts from a roommate watching The Ultimate Fighter while attending Westfield State College. Brian came to writing by starting his own blog, Four Down Territory, which focuses on Boston based sports, life, and of course MMA.