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Sean O’Malley questions whether the UFC should create a separate promotion just for women

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Sean O’Malley raises a question about the possibility of creating a separate promotion within the UFC exclusively for women’s MMA. During a recent episode of his TimboSugarShow podcast, O’Malley engaged in a casual conversation with his coach Tim Welch and two friends. The topic arose when Welch mentioned a past tweet by Islam Makhachev that asserted that MMA is not a sport for women, which prompted O’Malley to delve into a thought experiment.

O’Malley pondered, “What if there was a ‘WUFC’? What if women had their own dedicated program? Would it thrive? Could they sell pay-per-views and fill arenas? I’m just asking. What if it became the ‘WUFC’? It would still be the UFC, Dana White would still be involved, and the UFC would continue promoting these fights. Would it be sustainable?”

For the initial two decades of its existence, the UFC did not showcase any women’s fights. However, in 2013, the promotion broke new ground by featuring Ronda Rousey defending her UFC bantamweight title against Liz Carmouche at UFC 157. Since then, the UFC has embraced women’s MMA, with female fighters now constituting approximately 20 percent of the current roster and participating in 16 percent of the promotion’s fights in 2022. Nonetheless, in 2022, women headlined only six out of the UFC’s 42 events. O’Malley suggests that women’s fights might not captivate audiences to the same extent as those featuring male fighters.

“We’re not saying they’re inferior,” clarified Sean O’Malley. “We’re approaching it from a pure entertainment standpoint. Look at the WNBA, look at the NBA. There are some women’s fights that are highly entertaining. There are a few…”

“WNBA – WUFC, I’d find it intriguing. I think it would be interesting… We’re not talking about skill; they are incredibly skilled. I’m speaking purely from an entertainment perspective. You know, the kind of fights that make you say, ‘I can’t f****** wait for this!'”

While it is unlikely that the UFC will ever separate its male and female divisions, the promotion previously maintained a business relationship with the all-female organization Invicta FC and continues to recruit heavily from its roster of fighters.

O’Malley acknowledges that he doesn’t have ample time to fully explore the complexities of gender dynamics in professional sports. Currently, he is scheduled to face Aljamain Sterling for the bantamweight title in the main event of UFC 292, set to take place at the TD Garden in Boston on August 19. However, he may seek insights from his co-headliners, as women’s strawweight champion Weili Zhang will defend her title against Amanda Lemos in the co-main event.

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