It’s not often you disagree, vehemently, with one of the greatest athletes of all time about the very sport he conquered, yet here we are: Fedor Emelianenko is wrong. Dead wrong.

Lets have a little context, shall we? When asked about women’s MMA and Ronda Rousey’s recent performance at UFC 184 this week, the heavyweight legend stated to WHOA TV through an interpreter that “she has really interesting fights. Maybe a little bit of improvement to striking” but that he “doesn’t support women’s MMA.” He goes on to state that

Women shouldn’t compete in UFC/MMA because this sport is for men… There are a lot of sports where women look like women, like gymnastics, water sports, maybe some athletics…. MMA is for men. It’s a man’s sport.

This is the sort of boy’s club mentality that you’ll find on the darker corners of some MMA forums, and is a reminder of what the women’s side of MMA has had to endure as they’ve clawed their way into mainstream MMA relevancy. And for Fedor, there may be some cultural factors at work here, and an old school mentality. Yet the fact remains that Fedor is a well versed, intelligent fighter who has dabbled in politics, travelled the world, and frankly, should know better than to reduce female athletes to the sum of their looks.

For starters, and this is probably the most vapid argument against Fedor’s criticisms, female fighters do look like women. Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate, Paige VanZant, Felice Herrig — not too many manly men are turning down a night out with any of them.

Moving past such shallowness, however, Fedor should also know talent, and a draw, when he sees it — and Rousey is both talented, and a huge draw. She has proven, without a doubt, along with numerous other female MMA fighters, that they do belong. That they can put on exciting fights, that they can steal the show. That’s why women’s MMA bouts in the UFC have often been some of the best on the card.

Of course, old habits, and old prejudices die hard. The argument about women in fighting, however, is about as relevant as the argument over women voting at this point: meaning, there isn’t one. It’s a dead subject, and it’s time to accept reality and move on. If women want to fight, they’re going to fight. As they should, considering they’re doing a pretty good job of it.

Look no further than the buyrate of UFC 184, which is tracking to be on par with UFC 183: Silva vs. Diaz. With very little on the undercard to attract casual fans, that’s as huge success for women’s MMA, as both the main event (Rousey vs. Zingano) and co-main event (Holm vs. Pennington) were women’s bantamweight bouts.

Back to Fedor, however. This isn’t the first time he has spoken out against women’s MMA. In the past, he has suggested that women need to be “domestic goddesses.” Tell that to Cat Zingano, who both fights, and is a mother. Oh, and is another female fighter who “looks like a woman.”

Which is why such criticisms are flawed, more than ever, in 2015.

If you don’t want to watch it, fine. Don’t order it, don’t tune it (it should be noted that yes, The Last Emperor tuned in to watch Rousey). That’s the joy of having a remote control. To claim MMA is a man’s sport? That’s already been proven false.

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.

  • Ronin Jujitsu

    Am a fan of Fedor, as a fighter, and Rousey. As the saying goes, don’t know art, but I know what I like. The technical skill displayed by women like Holly Holms and Ronda Rousey have sold me on WMMA. Regarding the upcoming fight between Esparza and Jedrzejczyk, hope Joanna takes it but am a fan of both girls. Both are are technically good in their respective fields but the skill displayed by Joanna in her last fight in striking and ground defense was awesome.