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The Rise of Female Fighters in the UFC: Breaking Barriers and Making History

UFC, the leading fighting championship authority, introduced a separate section for female fighters which increased their interest in combat sports. This approach resulted in plenty of legendary female fighters to date.

The Rise of Female Fighters in the UFC: Breaking Barriers and Making History

Ronda Rousey (Credits: Sky Sports) 


Sukanya Adhikary

Updated: 26 March 2024 9:15 AM GMT

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) offers female fighters a challenge filled with innovative encounters and a constant quest for excellence. Female fighters have overcome barriers, dismissed preconceptions, and surprised international audiences with their mesmerizing skills.

Over the years, female fighters have reflected their technical skill, agility, and determination in the cage with stunning fights and thrilling bouts. Well-known mixed martial arts (MMA) competitors who are women have lifted the bar for competitiveness and become unbeaten in their weight classes. The below-mentioned female fighters contributed to creating the road for the UFC to see an increase in the number of female competitors.

Ronda Rousey

UFC faced an immense shift in 2012 by signing a contract with the first female fighter and creating history. She became the first American woman who win an Olympic medal in judo and won bronze in Beijing in 2008. Owing to her persona and strength, Rousey became famous and enlightened the expansion of women's mixed martial arts.

UFC included 2 different sections in the women’s weight roster after the revolutionary performance of Rousey that encourages female fighters to compete at the greatest levels. This approach gives more female fighters the chance to compete at the greatest levels. The growing divisions increased the pool of skills within the organization and contributed to the rise of female fighters. For a long time, Rousey dominated the division, heading into every fight as a huge favorites in the UFC odds. However, she was on the end of a huge upset when she was defeated by Holly Holm.

Amanda Nunes

Besides, the UFC rewarded Amanda Nunes as one of the best female fighters by omitting the reputation of the first female champion who won both the featherweight and bantamweight divisions. Nunes defeated Miesha Tate in the first round of the UFC 200 bantamweight division and defelated Cris Cyborg in 51 seconds, in the first round of UFC 232, which added another championship quality to her collection.

Zhang Weili

UFC rewarded Zhang as the first female Chinese champion after defeating Jéssica Andrade in just 42 seconds at Fight Night in Shenzhen, China. Zhang became the consecutive two-time champion at UFC 281 when she fought with Carla Esparza by rear-naked choke. At the age of 34 this renowned fighter, defeated Amanda Lemos by majority decision at UFC 292.

As Zhang said, “Women should not be defined. It is unfair to require women to have to be soft, to marry when people feel they should, or to take care of husbands and children. Women can have different sides. I am now working in a male-dominant field, but I have still found my position and earned people’s respect. Women can be soft, but can also be strong.”

Apart from their accomplishments in the ring, female fighters have had an impact as supporters of gender equality and female empowerment in sports. They have disproved social misconceptions about women doing combat sports, and they have inspired future athletes and great reasons by using their platforms.

The arrival of female fighters in the UFC has altered perceptions of what women possess in sports besides altering the MMA environment. Through shattering stereotypes, creating history, and exceeding demands, these incredible athletes have solidified their status as fighting sports pioneers and motivated a new wave of rivals. The accomplishments and dedication of the UFC's female fighters will surely continue to be an important and cherished part of the organization's history as it expands.

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