The UFC has shown a dedication to providing opportunities for its fighters to develop themselves in aspects outside of the cage. Forrest Griffin currently works for the UFC. Chuck Liddell and Matt Hughes have held positions in the corporate structure in the past.
On the television side, the UFC has had Tyron Woodley, Michael Bisping, Daniel Cormier, Brian Stann, Rashad Evans, Yves Edwards, Dominick Cruz, Paul Felder, Chris Weidman and Kenny Florian, to name a few. All of these men are proven world-class fighters, faces of MMA and tenured, knowledgeable participants in the sport. However, they all have one other thing in common: they’re all men.
I’m a man. I don’t hate men. However, just because I’m a man doesn’t mean all I want to see is men. I don’t. Not in any form or fashion. I’m a huge fan of women’s MMA. I spend a lot of time going in depth regarding match-ups, techniques and the individual fighters. There are very few people who show this same level of concern, interest or attention to detail in regards to women in MMA. Therefore, I am very concerned when I see a lack of female presence behind the analyst desk.
There is Karen Bryant, but she isn’t a fighter. Outside of Bryant, though, the UFC has only had two fighters of the female persuasion, Michelle Waterson and Miesha Tate. Furthermore, how many times have we seen Tate or Waterson compared to how often we see their male counterparts? How many times have we had them work the booth, calling fights? The split between the two sexes isn’t anywhere close to even.
As the biggest and most prestigious organization in North America, the UFC needs to set the example. It’s similar to the way the company set the example in pay, insurance, media programming, media platforms, superstars and world-class fighters. There needs to be more balance in the representation of former and current female fighters getting the opportunity to diversify themselves and their career through positions behind the broadcast desk.
Shows like TUF Talk have highlighted how well spoken, interesting and knowledgeable these women are when in front of the camera in a non-fighting capacity. It also allows them to flash their charisma and charm, two very valuable characteristics for television personalities of any sort. These women have it, but they still have no real outlet for showcasing it or maximizing it through Fox or the UFC.
My point on this isn’t to disparage the women the UFC and Fox have working the desk or doing interviews, nor is it to disparage the men who do the same or call the fights. I enjoy them all and think they each bring a unique quality to their analysis, calling of fights, or carrying of a show. But why aren’t more female fighters given this opportunity?
They have stories to tell, too. Some of them are longtime veterans. Many of them have more than enough personality to contribute to a pre- or post-fight desk, or even better a two- or three-man both. Yet, very few have been given an opportunity at the desk, and none have been allowed to call the action inside the cage. Why hasn’t that happened?
Outside of the financial and historical aspect of being a media personality, there are the benefits it provides in regards to how a fighter is perceived and allowed to stay in the public eye. The aforementioned Cruz wasn’t a really popular champion, but after an extended stint calling fights, working the desk and interviewing fighters, the narrative changed. Cruz’s popularity grew. His intelligence and depth of character was acknowledged. This was not because of what he did as a fighter, but because of what he did as a media member and TV personality. This shows how valuable these positions are, how much they could mean to a fighter who maybe hasn’t had a chance to showcase other elements of their character, intelligence and skills. The aforementioned Stann wasn’t a champion or an elite fighter, but look at how his standing in the MMA community changed when he flourished outside of the cage.
Are you telling me there isn’t one veteran of women’s MMA who couldn’t replicate that?