The presence of female athletes in Mixed Marshal Arts (MMA) has been growing steadily since the mid-1990s. It was Japanese women who first took to the ring and soon created all female organisations to support themselves. The sport came to the US a little later, riding a wave of popular support created by the reality show The Ultimate Fighter. Here, both men and women were shown training and competing, a formula which garnered huge amounts of public enthusiasm for the stars.
Women who are interested in competing at a professional level have to follow the same hard path to victory as their male counterparts. Long hours in the gym, practising grappling moves, and learning the secrets of a throw strike are all part of the early training. Then female MMA fighters need to find local matches, building up a record of victories that cannot be ignored by promoters at big league events like the Ultimate Fighting Championships.
The women who fight in MMA are some of the fiercest competitors around, their appearance is clearly a big draw for the fans, but despite the makeup, the bouts are incredibly brutal and dangerous. Current female athletes like ‘Rowdy’ Ronda Rousey and ‘Pitball’ Bethe Correia have been compared to rock stars, as the publicity they generate for MMA fighting is massively significant for the sport.
Hailing from San Diego in California, bantamweight Kerry Vera began her fighting career in 2009. One of her bloodiest and most powerful performances was against Leslie Smith in May of that year, Vera delivered a black eye to her opponent whilst herself reeling from a bleeding nose. Kerry first rose to fame while appearing in the reality show Fight Girls. She quickly became known for her use of a full-contact fighting technique called Muay Thai, which was practiced during the show. Although she retired due to injury in 2010, there has been recent speculation that she may be considering a comeback.