TUF 18 Finale – The Women Are The Main Event
By Christopher Jester
Despite some of the mellow dramatics that took place between fights, The Ultimate Fighter Season 18 delivered with an exciting view of women’s place in mixed martial arts. In a season where the stars of this show were the women, TUF 18 displayed a viewpoint into how this sport has evolved from its once decadent and masochistic mindset that women did not fit into the grand scheme of things in this combat sport. It did help that heading into the finale of the show, the men faltered halfway through as a couple of the men (Cody Bollinger and Anthony Guitterez) failed to make weight and were kicked off the show. For those who tuned into the season, they got to see the best of the some of the bantamweight women fighters coming up in the sport.
If you turn away from some of the he-said-she-said nuances that took place on the show, TUF 18 gave a good look at the women while also showcasing that they are just as competitive and hard-working as their male counterparts. While the season may not have ended as well as it started with how the men’s tournament did not play out as smoothly as it should have, it was the women who were the focus and for good reason. The UFC played on this smartly as they highlighted how women fit into a sport that has been dominated by men for years.
Initially the draw to the show was the rivalry between Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate. The show was peppered with instances of that displaying their dislike for one another, but it became less about them and more about the fighters; as it rightfully should.
Was their rivalry exciting and often times illuminating on their character? Yes and most definitely the latter. The obvious issue with this is, these two have their date to settle their issues (UFC 168). It was as if the producers remembered this halfway through the show as it was able to eventually take on great character portrayals of some of its cast such as the underdog Julianna Pena, the wily and tough Raquel Pennington, and the mature boxing champion Jessica Rakoczy. Each of these females had moments to showcase their character and each became favorites in their own way to the endearing audience.
There were numerous highlights throughout the season. Fighting wise it came down to the amazing back-and-forward battle between Jessamyn Duke and Raquel Pennington. While Pennington came out of the bout as the winner, each fighter raised their stock and is surely going to be MMA’s versions of TV-darlings in the years to come.
The most emotional might have come from Roxanne Modaferri’s loss to Jessica Rakoczy. The heart-piercing scream that showed her frustration at coming so close but being so far. It was those sorts of moments that let these women into the hearts of the audience. A show like this also helps fans follow these fighters in their careers. While there are numerous fans out there who knew of some of these fighters before their venture on TUF, such as Shayna Baszler and Modaferri. But imagine the audience who had not known of these fighters before this show. This show now gives them a platform to watch and witness the growth of these women as their careers continue to blossom.
With the UFC working on the addition of the strawweight division, women are becoming more prevalent in the UFC. While, there are numerous outlets for the women in the sport, it has to be the UFC that is providing the most spotlight. The careers’ of the women on this season will forever be linked to the UFC now and their inception has been inspiring to watch. In the meantime, fans can sit back and watch the spectacle in the evolution of mixed martial arts. It is surely an interesting time to be a fight fan; especially now that women are putting on some of the most exciting fights in MMA history.
Follow Christopher “sLapDatSuCKa” Jester on Twitter @sLapDatSuCka
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