Standard practice for Fox Sport’s UFC Fight Night is to offer the event in two shows; “UFC Fight Night Prelims”, immediately followed by “UFC Fight Night”. The idea is that the “Prelims” iteration showcases up and comers while the second show features more well-known, higher ranked fighters who are therefore closer to a Championship fight, or fan favorites.
Usually, The Prelims are exciting matchups with albeit lesser, but to UFC fans, known competitors and the 4/18 event in Newark New Jersey did not disappoint. Among the Prelims, the card featured Ultimate Fighter 19 Champion Corey Anderson being assaulted with a barrage of leg kicks throughout the fight, succumbing to a vicious 3rd round TKO at the hands of Gian Villante.
Also on the card was Ovince St. Preux, known for his tremendous power and vicious kicks and for in his last fight demolishing world re-known MMA legend and ex-heavyweight champ “Shogun” Rua with a 34 second TKO. In this event, Ovince knocked out Patrick Cummins in the 1st round.
The second show, or main card began with what could be construed as “Effeminate Action”. As a strong proponent of Affirmative Action, I’m torn by my opposition to this so-called Effeminate Action. The first matchup on the main card featured two Women fighters, 12th ranked Paige Vanzant vs. 8th ranked Felice Herrig. Who vs. whom?
Women’s UFC Champ Ronda Rousey has undoubtedly popularized Women’s Mixed Martial Arts. She is arguably the current most marketable Mixed Martial Arts athlete. In addition to dominating all opponents, she is a television and film star, product spokesperson, and certified badass. Her popularity has propelled Women’s MMA to new heights, prompting UFC President Dana White to produce the 1st season of The Ultimate Fighter featuring all women Mixed Martial Artists.
Whether it’s Football, with the NFL’s (ridiculous) goal to have a team based in Europe and currently playing one game annually in London, or the NBA with equal aspirations playing games in Mexico, league owners and commissioners from all sports are always looking for ways to grow their fan base…sometimes to the detriment of the sport. Is the UFC following the same path?
The Vanzant vs. Herrig fight was an exciting bout featuring great grappling action, ending in the underdog 12th ranked Vanzant dominating 8th ranked Herrig, controlling the action in the later rounds with skillful ground technique, punishing her with hammer fists, elbows, and all around ground and pound. That being said, did that matchup deserve to “headline” over the St. Preux or Anderson fight? Despite her domination of the higher ranked Herrig, does the 21-year-old Vanzant deserve a Reebok sponsorship over Ovince or any other fighter on the Prelim card, or is she the beneficiary of Effeminate Action?
This particular Women’s MMA bout is a poor example as it was (although IMO not as much so as the Anderson or St. Preux fight’s) entertaining. My take on Effeminate Action however is a simple one; is it about growing the fan base, or is it about inclusion as Dana White and The UFC would assert? If it’s truly about inclusion and at times the product suffers as a result, I support it. Knowing Dana White’s goal of World Domination however precludes me from such optimism and therefore gives me pause when two lesser-known women fighters are featured over 2, 4, or 6 more prominent male fighters. Women’s mixed martial arts can be exciting and deserves a spotlight, but if the fight is featuring the two women at work dating the same dude, let’s be honest about the intentions, and put it on the undercard… just after me vs. my dickhead neighbor, otherwise the product suffers.
written by Che K’Hama