A lot has been said about the influence Ronda Rousey has had on the world of women’s mixed martial arts (MMA) and on bright-eyed little girls across the world who don’t quite like Barbies and tea sets. Despite her latest losses she has remained an extremely influential figure.
However, there is a bigger picture here that is now emerging. It started with the likes of Gina Carano and continues with a number of inspiring young ladies who continually prove that that girls too can be strong, tough and determined, even when the odds are against them.
In this article we will examine some of the things that these great women warriors of MMA have taught us and why they are incredibly powerful role models for all our daughters, sisters and friends.
Let’s start off with Ronda Rousey given the insane amount of work to popularize women’s MMA. She has spoken openly in the past about all the problems she had faced growing up, and how at times she barely had enough money for a cup of coffee. Yet she still kept training. And we’re not talking about hitting the gym 2-3 times a week here – to become an Olympic medalist Rhonda made a lot of sacrifices and keep pushing day in and day out.
While she can be a bit brash at times, her message is clear – stick to what you are doing, believe in yourself and put in the hours upon hours of work, this work ethic will definitely take you places.
Joanna is an incredibly talented martial artist and only the third UFC champion to come from Europe. When it comes to MMA, she single-handedly put her native Poland on the map. This took years to achieve. She is an excellent example of how you should never stop dreaming big, no matter where you come from and no matter no one was there before you to pave the road.
Even Joanna’s signature stare down is a beautiful piece of inspiring symbolism – instead of trying to tower over her opponents and look menacing, she crouches down and looks up into their eyes, showing that someone seemingly small and frail can still overcome all obstacles and defeat anyone in her path. She also brought one of her opponents a cookie, so she also has quite a healthy sense of humour.
There are very few women in MMA who have gone through as many trials and tribulations as Cris Cyborg. She exploded onto the scene with big impressive wins, and showed immense power and unprecedented skill in both striking and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. However, she was denied a title fight with Rousey for the longest time, she was forced to cut too much weight on her already lean body before fights; there was even a drug scandal.
A constant problem for Cris was that she was an outsider in many ways. She is a Brazilian who had some difficulties with her English at first, she didn’t look like a cute skinny model and she was constantly forced to fight at a weight that was far lower than her optimal weight as a fighter. However, even though she had to undergo painful water cuts to the point of dehydration (and shed a few tears along the way), she ultimately stayed tough and kept pushing.
And she pushed hard. All that she cared about was her sport, her training and the next opponent they were going to put in front of her. It took a few years, but she has finally gotten what she always wanted – recognition. Cris Cyborg is a beacon of hope for all the little girls who feel like an outsider and want to become successful based on their merits in a world that often values looks over true skill.
In the days leading up her fight with Ronda Rousey, Amanda Nunes exhibited the true spirit of martial arts. While Rousey is usually quite the media darling, she did very little to promote this particular fight. Lack of media coverage is the last thing an up-and-coming fighter like Nunes needed. Whilst most people backed Ronda, there was virtually no opportunity for Nunes to show her own side of the story. But Amanda kept calm and waited.
She knew that her opponent allowed her own hubris and the desire to prove something to the world had gotten the better of her. Amanda kept training hard and working on exploiting Ronda’s biggest weakness – her subpar striking game. Ronda had spent the previous couple of years bragging about how her boxing was improving and how everyone was telling her that she had become a great striker. She even joked about beating up Floyd Mayweather.
On the other hand, Amanda didn’t talk much about her skills, she just kept working on them – looking at herself objectively and constantly improving. When it was time to fight, Amanda literally destroyed her opponent in under a minute, with powerful, crisp and incredibly precise strikes, the kind that Ronda only thought she had. Only once she had proven herself did Nunes gesture to the crowd to stay silent and reached for the microphone to give everyone a piece of her mind.
In a world where cyber bullying and shaming are becoming a big problem and young girls are under a lot of pressure to fit in, Amanda’s approach to ignoring the haters and letting your actions speak for themselves is a truly inspiring lesson in what it means to be a strong and determined woman.
These were just some of the biggest examples of how these brave warrior women have proven better role models for young girls than most of the regular celebrity actresses and pop singers. There are a whole lot of other female MMA fighters who didn’t make this list, but deserve to have their stories told. So be sure to find more inspirational stories like these.
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