On February 23 of 2013, history was made inside of the world famous Octagon as Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche became the first ever women to compete in the UFC. The fight itself lasted just under five minutes as Rousey secured an arm bar submission to successfully defend the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Title.
That moment has been seen by many as a huge step forward for women, not just in the sports of MMA, but in female sports as a whole.
However, if what I just mentioned above was a step forward for women and female sports as a whole, what can easily be considered a huge leap backwards in the Lingerie Fighting Championships.
If you have never heard of the Lingerie Fighting Championships before, all you may need to know about the promotion is in their logo:
“A little bit of MMA, a little bit of wrestling, and a little bit of clothing.”
The quasi MMA promotion was started several years back by Shaun Donnelly, who created the organization after watching an MMA bout between Kim Couture and Sheila Bird.
“I had created a weekly MMA TV series called “Friday Night Fights” for KoldKast and YouToo (America) a few years ago and was watching a ton of women’s MMA as I selected fights to include in the show. One day I was editing a fight between Kim Couture and an unknown Calgary fighter named Sheila Bird – the fight would end with Couture nearly dying – and this idea came to me to have girls who looked like ring girls fight in lingerie with rules that would protect them from sharing the same fate as Couture. I called some cable contacts and instantly there was interest so I returned to Vegas and began putting it together – as a mockumentary. This involved shooting in a green screen studio and months of post-production. While we were editing it our social media started to blow up – we became the third most popular MMA league on Facebook in under a month. With so many people asking where they could buy tickets and the cable systems wanting new content we decided it was easier to become a real league than shoot in studio. Our first live show was LFC 19: Hadden vs Mee – we had started with LFC 18 because I thought it would be more interesting to jump in on an existing promotion than a new one – and we’ve been live ever since,” Donnelly said in a July 2017 interview with MMA Weekly.
To this day, a total of twenty four events have been run by the organization, with the majority of the shows happening in Las Vegas. The promotion hasn’t restricted itself to just a single location though, with other shows running in Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, Kansas City and even overseas in Bratislava, Slovakia. If you are unable to attend these events live, fans have been able to watch the event on pay-per-view.
Donnelly, who started the promotion and still runs it to this day, claims that the fights are real and unscripted, just with a modified rule set to ensure the competitors do not get hurt.
“We’ve just put in rules to protect them from damaging their faces (as) many of our cast are models and can’t afford to show up for a shoot with a black eye. And they go into each fight more concerned with putting on a great show than killing their opponent. Our fighters have big personalities that shine through and that is definitely something we’ve borrowed from the pro-wrestling world,” says Donnelly to MMA Weekly.
This statement from Donnelly then brings an interesting question into the mix…if this is an MMA show through and through, then why the modified rules? Just to show where I am coming from, a plethora of women’s fights take place each week through a variety of cards all over the world, but rarely are the women protected in such a way that their so called modeling careers take precedence over the fight itself.
I mean, when was the last time a pair of women signed up for a fight in a major MMA organization, or even a regional one for that matter, and stated that rules had to be changed so the upcoming bikini shoot wouldn’t be affected?
There are now hundred’s, if not thousands, or women training all over the globe nowadays to duke it out and hone their skills in an attempt to become the best female fighter of their time. Now, in a perfect world, women who fight could win their bout and also pursue other careers in the entertainment industry (modeling, acting, etc.) as well. However, both worlds cannot intersect because if a female fighter is fighting with an endgame in mind of being in a modeling shoot, it would severely limit her focus leading up to and during the fight, which could lead to disastrous consequences.
“Some people assume it’s pro-wrestling because a lot of our fighters come from that world but the results aren’t scripted and the girls really fight,” Donnelly said to MMA Weekly.
To make things seem even odder for the LFC, it would seem more like pro wrestling’s version of female MMA because so many women’s wrestlers have participated in past events. Which again, would make it seem like the Lingerie FC is more like sports entertainment than a real sport, like Invicta FC or the UFC is with MMA.
According to the current LFC roster page, a plethora of female pro wrestlers are a part of the organization. Such women’s wrestlers as indy star Allie Parker/Kylie Sutton portrays Allie “Babydoll” Parks, former Impact Wrestling Knockouts Champion Sienna portrays Beth “Mount Crush” Moore, Shimmer wrestler Sassy Stephanie portrays Brenda “Juice” Jones, indy wrestler Jennifer Thomas portrays Jenny “Bloody” Valentine, former Impact Wrestling Knockouts Champion Jade/Mia Yim portrays Megan “Baby” Doll, OVW alumni Ray Lyn portrays Raya “Sugar Ray” Ryans, former Shine Champion Taylor Made portrays Riley “Nuclear” Norris, former Shimmer Champion Cheerleader Melissa portrays Sheila “Crash” Cardinal and former WWE/Impact Wrestling star Shelly Martinez/Ariel/Salinas portrays Shelly “Aphrodite” DaSilva.
It would seem like a supposed MMA organization filled with so much pro wrestling talent is nothing more than the sports entertainment version of MMA. Is there a chance I could be completely off base by that…sure…but there is a roster of 51 “fighters” and not a single one has any professional or amateur MMA experience to speak of (outside of Sienna). What Donnelly and the LFC did is what the WWE did during their worst period of women’s wrestling many years back…put a few talented women in the ring (or cage in the LFC’s world) and surround them with a plethora of models, hoping everything turns out OK in the end.
There is nothing inherently wrong with being a sports entertainment version of MMA, but do not act like its pro MMA or even amateur MMA when its light years behind the skill set of even what the worst real MMA fighter has to offer.
The WWE once had a huge image problem with the women on the show, not by the fault of the women themselves, but by the way they were portrayed on TV each week. This era of bra & panties matches, swimsuit matches, one minute matches and other such portrayals of the women on the WWE roster was embarrassing to say the least. However, if you were to turn on your TV now, women are portrayed on equal level as the men and they are not an important part of the show, instead of the bathroom break portion of the show.
Since the debut of women in the UFC, a similar rise has happened in MMA, with the female fighters being an intricate part of the success and growth of their sport as a whole.
But the same thing cannot be said about the LFC and their women, who may be role models in the pro wrestling world and even in other places, but are looked at for their tits, asses and bodies in the LFC cage. There is nothing wrong with looking good in any medium in which a woman works or competes at, but there is something terribly wrong with simply being judged on how much hornier the men and women who stare at them become.
April 8 of this year was the date of WWE Wrestlemania 34, which featured the professional wrestling debut of former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey. The MMA star turned pro wrestler blew people away with her in ring skills and is now a prominent member of the roster in the WWE. I am not a woman as I am a man, but I cannot help but think that Rousey’s ‘Mania 34 performance mixed in with the high regard of how a lot of other women see her was an empowering moment for ladies everywhere.
However, if it were up to the LFC in the summer of 2016, everybody may now be judging Rousey for that T&A instead of her athletic abilities. The LFC sent out a press release stating that they wanted Rosuey to either compete in their league or to be a brand ambassador.
"Ronda Rousey has long been at the very top of our wish list," said Shaun Donnelly, LFC's Chief Executive Officer in the press release. "Not only is she one of the top fighters of all time, she is also a very beautiful woman who isn't afraid to show off her sexy side. LFC has never made an offer to any fighter already under contract with another league but recent rumors that Rousey plans to retire if she loses a rematch to Holly Holm has changed the landscape. We have reason to believe that Ms. Rousey might seriously consider a role with Lingerie Fighting Championships, either as a competitor or an ambassador. She has been critical in the past at how little female fighters are paid and LFC has always shown a real commitment to paying our fighters very well. She has been critical in the past at how little female fighters are paid and LFC has always shown a real commitment to paying our fighters very well. Previous LFC events have boasted purses in excess of $15,000 and while Donnelly acknowledges this is a very small sum compared to what Rousey earns with the UFC, it is anticipated the publicly traded company might make an offer that combines purse with shares of the company. It's still a long shot at this point. For one thing, I don't believe Rousey will lose to Holm a second time. She's an exceptional fighter and she's going to have a long time to prepare. I wouldn't bet against her under those circumstances."
While Rousey never did regain the women’s bantamweight title, another thing she didn’t do was move to the LFC, as unlikely as it seemed it would’ve been either way.
For just a few moments, lets play God for a moment and assume, against all odds, that Rousey did indeed sign as a competitor for the LFC. Just imagine seeing the woman who played the hugest role in bringing female MMA to the UFC was seen competing against some unknown model or pro wrestler in a seemingly fake MMA league, while also stepping into the cage wearing lingerie. The only entities that would benefit from that whole scenario is obviously the LFC and a bunch of horny people everywhere. Rousey, an inspiration to women and men all over the world, would look just as stupid or stupider than some of those who already compete in the cage.
If you were skeptical about the LFC being nothing more than MMA’s version of sports entertainment, look at another move the promotion made last year that is similar to a move made by the WWE many years back. In July of 2017, it was announced by the LFC that they would branch out with a feature films division, in some ways similar to what the WWE did with WWE Films.
“We have been approached by several production companies wanting to co-produce with us,” said Shaun Donnelly, LFC’s Chief Executive Officer said in a press release. “They know we have a large fan base and can bring a significant audience to a project.”
The promotion’s first project as a film studio is a movie based on the book titled “The Crescent,” which is penned by Cynthia Vespia. The movie version of the book is going to be called “Gladiatrix: Crescent Moon” and several LFC fighters will have roles in the film, which will start filming this Summer in Canada.
As this piece comes to a conclusion, one big question has to be answered by me and that is…what is to be made of the LFC?
From my very own perspective, I see the LFC as…
…a fake MMA league pretending to be a real MMA league…
…a fake MMA league that is more pro wrestling-like than pro MMA-like…
…a great way for women to be exploited based or their bodies…
…a way to make women’s MMA look like nothing more than a joke, which female fighters have been working against for over a decade now….
…or something else entirely.
No matter what I or anybody else for that matter thinks of the Lingerie Fighting Championships, it will probably be around for a long time to come. Luckily for those who want to watch a bunch of scantily clad women fake fight for some money, a dream has come true. For me and my viewing habits, I will continue to watch my women in the UFC, Bellator MMA, WWE, Impact Wrestling and other places where they are treated (mostly) with respect.
Oh Yeah…just in case you were looking for another connection between this “real” MMA organization and pro wrestling, or more importantly the WWE, you can buy shares of the LFC as they are a publicly traded company on the stock market.
You can buy some LFC stock right now for $0.0003 cents per share (as of the 4/20/2018 stock market closing).