Meet the girls who do MMA and could rip you in half
They could probably knock out Ronda Rousey as well
Most MMA fans would have you think it’s all muscly, testosterone-fuelled men rolling around on a mat trying to knock each other out.
Like football, boxing and even shooting – MMA is no longer a boys only sport, and girls around the country are flocking to their university MMA societies to learn how to punch, elbow and tackle their way to victory.
Ronda Rousey might have got spectacularly knocked out this week, but these girls could knock you down and put you in an arm lock in seconds.
But far from being ripped monsters like you’d expect – they’re all nice, normal politics and neurology students who just happen to be trained to kill.
Melanie Tan – Manchester
Manchester Melanie Tan used to be a kickboxer, but wanted to diversify her fighting and switched to MMA.
The 20-year-old Philosophy and Politics third year said: “The way people see female fighters is most definitely changing, there’s more recognition that female athletes are more than capable of kicking butt.
“I signed up because I wanted to diversify. I had previously done kickboxing last year.
“It is a great opportunity to take punches as well as give.”
“I think I’ve injured myself when I was trying to tackle someone as practice. It was my pinky toe.”
Melanie insists there isn’t a gender divide at her MMA training.
She said: “We all mix around and try out moves on different people.
“Usually we do try to keep to similar height levels but I tend to want to get the taller people so I know how to defend or attack someone that’s twice my height.”
Every week the Manchester MMA society put her through a gruelling range of exercises including push-ups, burpies and circuits as well as the training itself.
Melanie said: “The fighter I most look up to is Ronda Rousey, despite that sounding really typical. She’s amazing, inspirational and smart.
“It was disappointing to see her lose but it was a good match.
“It does break her streak but hey you win some you lose some.”
Lydia Shotton – Nottingham
19-year-old Lydia Shotton studies Neuroscience at Nottingham, but is also trained by one of the best MMA coaches in the country at her university society.
Lydia said: “Watching the fighters spar gave me the motivation to want to learn how to execute the same effortless and powerful spinning kicks and uppercuts.
“What makes this sport so interesting is that it combines various techniques from different martial arts and so there are nearly no limitations to the techniques.
The Nottingham society are coached by Steve Papp, who trained professional MMA fighter Dan Hardy.
“Striking and grappling training is combined with fitness drills, and this is where I struggle with the push-ups.
“Training is an excellent physical workout and will definitely compensate for the Chicken Joes you had for lunch.”
Comparing boxing to MMA, Lydia said: Boxing, generally speaking, requires fewer skills, but a boxer has to be more technical in the skills they do need to know.
“Ronda has been called many things: a badass, a beast but also too arrogant.
“You can say what you want about her, but at the end of the day, she has done a lot to bring attention to the women’s UFC division and has inspired a lot of girls to follow in her footsteps.
“The sport has a reputation for being very male dominated, but I do believe this is slowly changing with the growing due to the increasing popularity of female fighters such as Gina Carano, Miesha Tate and Cristiane ‘Cyborg’ Santos among others.”
Flora Nugee – Exeter
Exeter third year Flora Nugee has been watching MMA for years, but admits her biggest regret is not getting involved sooner.
She said: “When watching MMA I felt I could be just as capable if I put my mind to it, and ignored the gender stereotype surrounding women in the sport.”
Before getting involved in MMA, Flora was a rower at school but wanted something even more competitive.
She said: “Ever since I joined I had the vision of competition in mind, it is what motivates me to improve and learn however it is foolish to go into a fight unprepared so I’m taking my time.
“Prior to joining my first impressions of MMA was just an excuse for guys to punch each other out and prove their masculinity.
“But the second you look past that, you realise the people involved are bonded by not aggression, but a mutual respect for martial arts and are extremely genuine people.
“Unfortunately it is still and extremely male dominated world, where in a general sense men are viewed as badass aggressive streetfighters and the women as angry lesbians. This could not be further from the truth, despite the image characters like Ronda Rousey seem to portray.”
“She was simply outclassed. It was about time someone knocked her down a few pegs.”
Sariyah Mohammed – Manchester
Unlike many of the other girls who train and compete in MMA, Sariyah Mohammed got involved because of her love for martial arts films.
The Manchester Politicians and International Relations fresher said: “I haven’t watched much MMA outside of popular films, except maybe a few old fights on YouTube”
“The sport is male dominated but it’s definitely changing.
“So far I’ve only been learning the basics and practicing with others in the society sessions.
“I think it’s unfortunate that Ronda Rousey was knocked out but it shows a general increase in popularity of female mma fighters that so many people knew about it.”
Katie Kapodistria – Manchester
Katie Kapodistria first got involved in MMA because of the buzz she gets from the training.
The Manchester Politics and International relations first year said: “I’ve always been interested in hardcore workouts, and the intensity of MMA is a great stress reliever
“Also, as a woman I felt it would be a good idea to pick up some self-defence skills
“Much of karate is for show, not for real life combat and real life situations.”
Like most people, she has mixed emotions about Ronda Rousey’s monopoly of the sport and recent knock out.
She said: “On one hand, I was surprised to see her lose her usual control and let herself be bested, while at the same time, she has seemed to develop quite an arrogant behavior recently.
“I hope to see an emergence of more female MMA fighters in the near future.”