When the UFC first announced that Ronda Rousey was joining the promotion and women would finally have the chance to compete inside the Octagon, Miesha Tate was cautiously optimistic about the future.
Throughout her career, Tate heard over and over again the objections from UFC president Dana White on how he would never have women’s mixed martial arts in his promotion. So when the UFC changed course, Tate was excited about the future but also wondered just how much push the organization would put behind the women.
Fast forward less than five years later and the UFC has now introduced a fourth women’s division with the 125-pound weight class about to join the roster with “The Ultimate Fighter” season 26.
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In addition to the new division being added, both Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Amanda Nunes are ranked amongst the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport according to the UFC, not to mention Rousey became a household name and one of the biggest draws in the history of the sport during her reign as champion.
“It kind of blows my mind to be honest,” Tate told the Fight Society podcast. “That’s one thing I will say about the UFC, they don’t do anything half-assed and if they’re going to do it, they do it. When they finally decided to get behind the women’s fighting, they did it with 100-percent commitment. People ask me what’s the difference between boxing and MMA, why is women’s MMA so much more successful? Because the promotion actually gave us equal opportunity to display our skill sets.
“We’ve headlined huge cards and a lot of co-main events to very, very big cards. It’s one of those things when a promotion gets behind you and gives you the same push and the same opportunity for exposure and the exact equal opportunity, well that shows you what can happen when it’s there.”
In Hollywood, gender equality has become one of the top issues in the film and television industry as actresses have spoken out more and more lately about the pay gap between the top women’s stars when compared to their male counterparts.
According to a study by the Pew Research Center, women on average earn 83-percent of what men earn in the United States across full-time and part-time jobs in the country.
It’s another reason why Tate loves what the UFC has done to bridge that gap for women in fighting because competitors are compensated based on skills, accomplishments and the ability to draw a crowd and it has nothing to do with gender.
In this particular case, Tate applauds the fact that it’s women’s mixed martial artists who have literally fought for their place at the table and now the UFC is almost a model for gender equality, especially when it comes to professional athletics.
“What I also love about women fighting for equality in the workplace, when we’re actually fighting for a career choice alongside our male counterparts and we’ve gotten so much scrutiny — women shouldn’t do that, there’s no way — well here we are and what a better representation of what women can be when you pick a sport like fighting,” Tate said.
“It just goes to show, girls are a lot tougher than society gives us credit for.”
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Tate hopes the trends continue to tear down the walls that so many women have faced in the workplace and as crazy as it might sound, women’s fighters could be the inspiration to help make that happen.
“I think a lot of times women’s potential is held back just by the idea that everybody has and as little girls are raised. They’re raised to be pampered a little bit more and if she falls and scrapes her knee we’ve got to coddle her but if the boy does ‘hey suck it up!’. Maybe we need to be a little bit more across the board, equal with everybody,” Tate explained. “Girls are tough, too.
“We don’t need be raised to be these delicate little flowers. Let’s let the girls reach their inner potential. I love that the UFC has given opportunities to many women to showcase their skill sets.”