Who said mixed martial arts (MMA) was just a man's game?
UFC President Dana White today (July 19, 2011) addressed a question about the promotion's rapidly growing female fan base during the UFC 135 press conference in Denver, Colo., while premier light heavyweight main eventers Jon Jones and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson flanked each side.
Here is what he had to say:
"One of the things that was a no-brainer when we bought this company was males 18-34. We created the Ultimate Fighter for males, everything, this whole thing was created for males and we never saw how many women would get into this. Probably 45-percent of our fanbase is now female. There was just a story done by Fox where girls were taking girls-trips to Vegas for fights. Whenever you go to any of the big fights, there's girls there with their husbands or their boyfriends or whatever but there's a lot of girls there either by themselves or with friends. It's been amazing how fast our female fanbase has grown. We didn't see that coming."
Of course, Quinton Jackson had to chime in on the benefits of female fans, too. He also made it clear how he feels about overzealous male fans who touch him and rub the small of his back. In fact, he made it crystal clear that he would much rather prefer female fans approaching him for pictures rather than "random dudes:"
"I'm happy that more females are getting involved, honestly. Don't take this wrong, I love, I love fans. I'm the one who put out the fan phone. I used to talk to the fans on the phone because I couldn't type fast enough. I love the fans but after a while, since I've been fighting in the UFC, after a while I just get approached by too many dudes. After a while guys, honestly, you've got to put yourselves in my shoes, it's kinda weird. I don't know how guys notice me in places like at the fair and stuff like that. I don't notice guys at other places like that. Now when females come and notice me I'm like, "aww yeah, this is cool," but when you get approached by dudes and they want to take a picture with you and they touchin' the small of your back, they wanna touch your arm or touch on your head, it's kinda weird for me. Girls can do all that. I'm happy, bring more girls to the sport."
On a similar note, White was asked about women's MMA and if (and when) we could see female fights in the UFC. His answer was along the lines of his usual answer to the subject, but he added some interesting comparisons as well:
"I say this all the time. The problem with female fighters is there's not enough girls in each weight division to create an entire division so you can do these one-off fights but you can't create an entire division. That's almost the problem we had with the heavyweights at one point and who knows? We'll see where this thing goes over time. It never really panned out in boxing either where you had enough good female fighters to create an entire division. "
So what do you think Maniacs?
Does that 45 percent number seem a bit much? Will women's MMA ever have a future in the UFC, even if the divisions are deep enough someday?
For more on the female fight fan scene be sure to check out SB Nation's own Gal's Guide to MMA.