Professional Female MMA Fighters…Say What?

By Katrina Belcher (

Being a female in the MMA world, I’ve talked to a lot of men about my involvement in this industry. I find most men are either for, or against, women fighters in the world of MMA. Not one man I’ve spoken to is on the fence. They either think it’s cool, or they don’t like to see females fighting. I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to change the minds of men who feel that way…they just don’t like it. They don’t like to see “delicate” females bloodying each other up. Some women don’t like to watch men hit each other in the boxing ring. It’s just how they feel. And it doesn’t mean the person is good, bad or evil. Personal preference.

Should Women Fighters Earn the Same as their Male Counterparts?
Setting the above feelings aside — let’s talk about earnings for female fighters in the MMA industry. Certainly it’s true you cannot compare a no-named female MMA fighter against the likes of a Randy Couture or Chuck Liddell, but a few years ago you wouldn’t have been able to compare Chuck Liddell to the likes of Randy Couture. HOWEVER, I think the point here is that it’s obvious female fighters have a MUCH longer way to go, before they earn the types of fees awarded to their male counterparts. You may not know who a female fighter is, because female fights are not televised, publicized and put on PPV like the men’s fights are — but that does not mean they aren’t well-known. They just aren’t well-known by the major populace. And they aren’t well-known because they’re not good or haven’t been around — rather, it’s because, well, see my prior sentence. Female fights aren’t yet in the public eye. Consequently, female fighting events and venues don’t earn the same amount of revenue as the all male fighting events. It stands to reason, then, that they don’t yet have the same earning power as male fighters.

Just like in an “office” work environment, however, I personally feel that if the fight card has men and women on it, then it’s only fair to pay the same win/place/participation fee to each fighter — whether a man or woman. That isn’t happening yet. I know of events where the male champion will earn $2,500 for the night – and the woman only gets $500. IMHO that is sexist and unfair, especially when you consider that the training each female fighter received, the training gear she bought, the time spent, and the fees she paid for her training, for the gym/training center and her training time were the same fees paid by her male counterpart. Think about it. No one has ever said to a woman “hey – because you’re just a female, we’ll only charge you 1/3 of what we’re charging the guys for their training, or for your training gear…” That’s never happened. I don’t think anyone would dare!

So should female fighters in the MMA industry get paid the same as their male counterparts? Absolutely. The question is…how? IMO I think we need to increase visability. Ask your manager to get fights for you on those all male cards. Encourage other female fighters to ask their managers to do the same. And when you commit to a fight — GO! No excuses. Show up and fight. Prove your value. Soon, the people who are watching will turn into fans. Fans will want to see more of you…and will make sure to attend your fight events. They’ll even bring their friends. After a while, female fight venues will bring in as much revenue as their male counterparts – and a higher paycheck for their fighters.

So no, female MMA fighters don’t earn the same fees as the men do — yet. That’s okay though, ’cause, well –we’re fighters, we’re women and we’re patient. We’ll get there soon.

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