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The UFC’s Women’s Division Can’t Stop Making History: A Recap

April 13th was another historic night for women’s mixed martial arts. In only the second women’s fight in the history of what is arguably considered the premier MMA promotion in the world, Cat Zingano and Miesha Tate fought for the right to become one of the first two women to coach a group of male and female fighters on the upcoming season of the UFC’s reality show, The Ultimate Fighter. In addition to the coaching assignment, the winner would get to face the other TUF coach, champion Ronda Rousey, for the women’s 135 pound belt.

Miesha Tate, a former Strikerforce Bantamweight champion, competed on the boys’ wrestling team in high school. A mixed martial arts veteran, she came into the fight with a 13-3 record and something to prove. Tate had been angling for a rematch with Rousey since Ronda beat Tate with an awesome/horrific first round armbar in a Strikeforce championship fight last year. The only person standing in her way was Cat Zingano.

Cat Zingano started wrestling when she was twelve, eventually adding Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and striking to her arsenal. Going into Saturday’s fight, Cat had finished five of her six professional fights with a knockout or submission. Although Zingano didn’t have a personal history with Rousey, it didn’t mean she wanted the fight any less—her emotions clearly ran high as she entered the arena in tears.

For two rounds, Tate dominated, nearly submitting Zingano with both a kneebar and armbar. The fighters set a brutal pace, going back and forth between grappling and striking but it seemed clear that Tate had the upper hand. The tide began to turn when, late in the second round, Zingano connected with several good shots. The third and final round saw Zingano land a series of knees to Tate’s face, doing enough damage that referee Kim Winslow stopped the fight.

Cat Zingano not only became the first woman to win with a TKO in the UFC, but also as the first mom in the Octagon. Also, Zingano and Tate were awarded “Fight of the Night” by UFC president Dana White, a man who once swore that women would never fight in the Octagon.

There has been some controversy over Zingano’s win. Some think the fight was stopped too early. There have been claims that Zingano’s initial knee may have been illegal. The controversy only encourages this MMA fan. Arguments about early stoppages and possible illegal strikes are part of this sport. Controversy is nothing new. What is new is that the argument is about the particulars of the fight and not whether these women belonged in the cage at all, as it was just a short time ago. It’s obvious from this second women’s UFC bout that the female mixed martial arts is here to stay.

AshleyRose Sullivan hasn’t missed a major MMA event since 2006. In addition to following badass women in sports, she’s also a writer, artist, and full time geek. She’s watching all of Star Trek in a year and chronicling the adventure on her blog, My Year Of Star Trek.

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  • Danielle Parish

    I don’t follow the fights a lot, but I saw this one and it was BADASS. It definitely deserved the fight of the night honours.

  • Anonymous

    This sounds pretty hardcore. I don’t watch fights myself, but I’m tempted to. Awesome piece, AshleyRose, thank you. I take classes in MMA here in Hawai’i, but only for personal goals; ie, just to know how to defend myself. I’m starting to feel the pride in knowing how to preform in a sport. I can only imagine how much time and energy these women invest into this, and all the emotional investment as well. They rock!!

  • Eisen

    Fuck. I really should hit the gym.

  • Kathryn

    Why are they wearing hot pants/bicycle shorts? Don’t their male equivalents wear, basically, the same as boxers?

  • Life Lessons


  • Mina

    I’ve seen a match where a woman was basically in a male fighting uniform (covered midriff, shorts that weren’t hot pants), so I’m betting they have the option to wear more and most just choose not to. It’s like beach volleyball in the Olympics: One-piece swimsuits are an option, but most of the female athletes choose the bikinis.

  • Mina

    I never had much interest in MMA until all these women started getting into the sport. Watching women compete in a physically demanding, high contact sport like that and the majority of fans and officials be nothing but supportive is just plain inspiring.

  • Kathryn

    Huh. Never really understood it. But maybe it’s like fashion – a lot of women’s fashion is tighter fitting and more shapely.

    But thanks for that.