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  1. --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!

    No Respect: The Pay Scale of Women's MMA

    I recently had an interview with Knoxville women’s MMA matchmaker and editor for The Ultimate Female Fighter, Katrina Belcher. The questions on the state of matchmaking in women’s MMA turned into an article for my column on The Examiner. However, there was a large and rather important tangent on the issue of pay scale for female fighters. And, since the information is related to some of my most unpopular and inflammatory opinions, bullshido is clearly the place to report on it.

    The last professional event containing a major name in women’s MMA that has released salary information is Strikeforce’s “Diaz versus Shamrock." On that card in April, Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos, arguably the second biggest name in women’s MMA, earned $18,000. That includes her $10,000 win bonus. So, her base pay was $8,000. Her opponent, Hitomi Akano, got $1,450 for her trouble. These numbers do not include adjustments made for Santos coming in over weight.

    The Cyborg v Carano fight was already a foregone conclusion when the contract for this fight was being negotiated. And, while it may be a stretch to think that Strikeforce executives already knew the bout would be headlining a card with four separate title fights, they had to know that Santos was the heel of some headlining material. So, the fact that only one man on the main card received a lower base salary, and most of the men had at least double, does sound like gender inequality.

    On the surface.

    Belcher said, in regards to putting together cards, that “Every time you hear about an upcoming MMA event, the first question, whether it’s a local organization or national, is “who’s fighting?” and really that means “who are the men that are fighting?””

    This attitude doesn't just effect billing, it also impacts salary. The proportionate gap in pay for Santos was actually kind compared to some smaller organizations.

    Belcher put forward some interesting arguments about how making women’s MMA more visible and creating better communication between fighters and organizations can fix this perceived lack of value of women fighters. Some of these arguments are covered in her blog.

    But I have a much simpler and more cynical view of the issue. The problem isn’t so much perceived inequality of women fighters as it is perceived inequality of the sport. The average fan considers the MMA that the guys do to be the real MMA. The kicker is that those fans have good reason to think that.

    As mentioned, Carano v Santos is going to be headlining an event in which it is only one of four title fights. This certainly will make the women’s divisions more visible. It will get even the casual fan’s attention. Strikeforce is wheeling out all their biggest guns to assure that. But will it grant women’s MMA legitimacy?

    I’ll rephrase. Can a fight between two athletes who have been, by virtue of their status, allowed to scoff at the idea of weight classes while gleefully eating up tomato cans bring legitimacy to the divisions?

    Okay, so Santos only came in over weight once. But a good number of her opponents were on the smaller end of 135 and were asked to move up, so she was always a monster in comparison.

    If it weren’t for the fact that so many legitimate women athletes are hoping that this match will open up opportunities for them, we’d all be calling this fight what it is. It's a good old fashioned, Kimbo Slice style, freak show. Santos isn’t going to get paid that much on her own because she is a foil to Carano’s looks. Commentators just hope that their skills foil out as well so the two MMA heroines don’t turn out to be as disappointing as some of the EliteXC disasters.

    Shayna Baszler fought Sarah Kaufman at the last Strikeforce event this past June. The rounds were 5 minutes long. The opponents were reasonably similar in size and skill level. There were positional changes, reversals, and some technical counter punching. And watching it I was thoroughly shocked that such a well put together female fight was allowed to be aired on television.

    Those are the kind of fights that will have to become the rule rather than the exception for women’s MMA to be taken seriously. And Strikeforce is doing its part to further that cause by airing matches like Baszler v Kaufman. It’s just not happening on the headline.

  2. Rhinopkc is offline

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    Posted On:
    7/20/2009 2:34am

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Good points, but I think there's one more. A lot of people don't like watching women beat the **** out of each other. Well, some guys like to jerk off to it, but most people still like to see women as the gentler sex, not gladiators fucking each other up for our amusement. I don't think the women fighters will ever draw the numbers that the men do, and in the end, it's all about the numbers.
  3. alex is offline
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    Posted On:
    7/20/2009 3:54am

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    yep doesnt matter how you slice it womens boxing/mma etc is always gonna be in the doldrums for the simple fact that the majority of people, male and female, dont want to watch two girls beat each other up. thats all there is to say. skill of the fighters etc doesnt even factor into it imo.
  4. Who? is offline

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    Posted On:
    7/20/2009 5:59am


     Style: Muay Thai MMA

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    I find most women's fights boring, not only in MMA but boxing and Thai boxing. Only once in a while do they even look committed. I find it's a good time to go to the bar, trouble is so do so many other people.
  5. Kambei Shimada is offline
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    Posted On:
    7/20/2009 6:34am


     Style: Sub-Grap/MMA

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Personally i've never liked watching women fight. I know its sexist but i dont like to see a woman get hurt.

    There's no cash in Womens MMA because people dont want to watch it.
  6. Who? is offline

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    Posted On:
    7/22/2009 5:32am


     Style: Muay Thai MMA

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by Kambei Shimada View Post
    Personally i've never liked watching women fight. I know its sexist but i dont like to see a woman get hurt.

    There's no cash in Womens MMA because people dont want to watch it.
    I don't mind watching them if they're any good but they rarely are.
  7. syberia is offline
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    Posted On:
    7/22/2009 5:56am

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    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    You guys have a point, numbers is where the money is at, and like any female sport it will never pull big money. This remains true for everything, soccer, football (wichever type you'd like) Rugby. The last bit of fuss i heard on TV about female sport was the tennis. Even womens basketball, baseball and netball doesn't draw the kind of crowds you see at games invovling guys.

    Why? Becuase we play differently? Because there is less diversity in opponests or teams? Or because most sports fans are men? I've always assumed it was a combination of all of these, and more.

    When i played soccer they started a womens league, and got all of three teams, across all ages. I thought this was stupid and I continued playing with the guys team (rather that than playing against 10yr olds), i didn't feel left behind at all. MMA is no exception. There aren't many fighters, there are probably less fans and there are few willing to invest in something that isn't going to draw big crowds.


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  8. honesty is offline
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    Posted On:
    7/22/2009 6:21am


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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    To me it all comes down to the question of, in a sport that is already split by weight do you really then need to split again by gender?
    "Chance favours only the prepared mind."

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  9. syberia is offline
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    Posted On:
    7/22/2009 6:24am

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     Style: Jubo NOOB, BJJ

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    To me it all comes down to the question of, in a sport that is already split by weight do you really then need to split again by gender?
    I would love this to be the case. But I cannot imagine many promoters, audiences or male fighters agreeing. To be honest. And i would cringe if it got the wrong kind of media attention.
    But i think its something to work towards.


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  10. honesty is offline
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    Posted On:
    7/22/2009 6:30am


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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Its a question that I think of every time I hear about the English women's cricket team winning the world championships again, or the English women's football team winning their tournaments again. Why are we splitting these sports by gender? Is it because they are "weaker", or just because its the way its always been done. Personally, if I were a manager of a lower league football team in the UK, I'd be trying to plunder the women's teams for talent. From a purely mercenary point of view, they'd probably be cheaper and better than the male footballers I could employ....
    "Chance favours only the prepared mind."

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