Thursday, March 1, 2012

Hype or Hope? Meisha Tate vs. Ronda Rousey

 The upcoming Strikeforce battle between incumbent 135lb WMMA-champ Meisha Tate and relative newcomer Ronda Rousey takes place March 3rd in Columbus, Ohio.  The Rousey and Tate fight is an exhausted subject for many who claim the hype surrounding these two women has reached its saturation.  The fight has indeed been promoted and hyped with daily interviews, projections, twitter updates and general shit-talking from both women.  Many WMMA supporters are exhausted by the excessive publicity, claiming that there are other female fighters out there who deserve attention, which is absolutely true.  There are plenty of women fighting in smaller venues and training diligently to reach the critical mass currently occupied by Tate and Rousey.  But while I agree that Rousey's continual self-promotion and Tate's numerous attempts to exempt herself from the drama have become tenuous and somewhat annoying, the buildup of this fight is an integral part of bringing women out of the margins and into the forefront of the sport of MMA.  

            The problem is not the hype surrounding this fight; it is the constant insistence from multiple media outlets that Rousey or Tate must be ‘the face’ of WMMA.  Yet the search for a singular representative of the sport has been in place since Debi Purcell first came on the scene nearly a decade ago.  Although the popularity of the UFC and other MMA venues does not ride on the shoulders of one man, the sport of WMMA must, for some reason, apparently be embodied by one woman.  Gina Carano, now a B-movie star, failed to uphold this monumental position after her loss to Cris “Cyborg” Santos.  And Santos was never considered ‘the face’ of WMMA, primarily because her face does not conform to the standards of beauty necessary to become promoted by American sports media outlets.  The hype surrounding the Tate/Rousey fight reveals how female fighters will be promoted in the media as pageant contestants whose talents are punching and kicking rather than singing or dancing. 

No comments: