"Put him in a body bag!"
That's is the kind of thing you hear at a UFC, or Ultimate Fighting Championship, event. Also, "Joe Rogan, you're a fag!"
I wasn't surprised. That's exactly what I expected when I agreed to join my friend Michelle and her sister Sommer for a night of bloody, sweaty, no-holds-barred mixed martial arts at the Honda Center in Anaheim. One thing I hadn't anticipated was holding back tears of pride for womankind.
The culture surrounding UFC has always felt like a strange cult to me, like Heaven's Gate, Jonestown or that other brutal yet freakishly fascinating cult, child beauty pageants. Its hardcore followers scream and cheer for more blood. More blood! It's the modern-day version of the gladiator battles of the Roman Empire, only this arena is thick with the scent of Axe body spray rather than ancient B.O.
The sport's barbaric nature isn't the only big deterrent for me. My general distaste for lifted trucks, Affliction T-shirts and men whose pecks are larger than my mom's D-cups have also curtailed my interest. Despite my aversion to the sport, I agreed to come along because it was to be a historic event.
As we ate salted peanuts, Sommer told me the main event would be the first-ever UFC match between two women. For years, UFC commissioner Dana White insisted that women would never be allowed to compete in UFC, mainly because he didn't like the idea of two women thrashing each other. We are such delicate flowers, us ladies.
But here we were, in a huge arena packed with screaming fans, about to watch two awesome, tough ladies kick the living shit out of each other. It was enough to make me well up with tears and start chanting "Roe v. Wade! Roe v. Wade! Roe v. Wade!" Yes, really. Blame it on the Bud Light.
San Diego's Liz "Girl-Rilla" Carmouche was challenging UFC powerhouse "Rowdy" Ronda Rousey, an Olympic medalist in judo and an undefeated MMA fighter known for her vicious armbar. That's where she forcefully extends her opponent's arm back and pushes at the elbow, causing the hapless fighter to tap out or suffer a broken arm. In some cases, they don't tap out in time. This shudder-inducing move is how she's won every one of her fights—in the first round, no less.
Carmouche is an ex-Marine who's toured the Middle East three times. She's also the first openly gay UFC fighter. Once again, I couldn't help but puff up with pride for my fellow San Diegan. These two women are the definition of bad bitch, urban slang for a badass, independent woman who takes shit from no one. At this bad-bitch contest, only one could come in first place.
Leading up to the female smackdown were numerous rounds of fighting. We knocked back beers and hot dogs, and I checked out the crowd, partly for the sake of this column, but also because it was really hard to watch these muscle-bound gladiators—trained from head-to-toe to pummel their competition to a pulp—destroy each other. Even from a hundred feet away, I could hear each time a fist landed on someone's head, and the punches were relentless. During one match, a fighter pinned his opponent and smashed into his face no fewer than 15 times. The crowd roared; I cringed. If at any point the fighters took too long to lay a beating on each other, the arena filled with boos.
"They're here for blood," Michelle quipped. "Those beers are $10."
At the end of each fight, the men embraced each other warmly, like brothers who'd been scrapping in the living room. It's all very Fight Club. The Brotherhood of the Traveling Beat Down.
Then, as I wrapped my mouth around a juicy stadium hot dog, UFC royalty walked by: champion fighter Tito Ortiz, with his wife, famed porn star Jenna Jameson, following behind him. With that wiener on my lips, I thought, Well, this seems appropriate. Dozens of people whipped out their phones and started shooting photos of the couple. I hope I'm in the background, eyes wide with a hot dog in my mouth.
The lights went down and it was time for the big show. Carmouche walked out toward the octagonal ring, which was stained with blood from the previous bouts. Her entrance music, Benny Benassi's "Satisfaction," blared and the crowd cheered. They shouted even harder when Rousey, the fan favorite, came out to Joan Jett's "Bad Reputation." That's when I realized something kind of amazing.
In this jacked-up, testosterone-filled room, tough-looking men were wearing shirts that featured Carmouche and Rousey posed defiantly. They clapped and whooped. One guy behind me yelled out, "I love you, Ronda!" like a tween at a Justin Bieber concert. There were no "show me your boobs" or requests for the two women to kiss—which is what, I'm ashamed to say, I expected would happen.
As the women tussled and brawled, there were loud shouts of support. Again, the tears stung my eyes. We've come another step, baby.
For four minutes and 49 seconds, these woman warriors punched and kicked their hearts out. Rousey ultimately defeated Carmouche by applying her signature armbar. The crowd went wild, and so did I.
At the end, Beyonce's "Run the World (Girls)" blasted from the stadium speakers. Who run the world? Girls! At that moment, it felt especially true.
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