Recently Ralek Gracie of Metemoris expressed his thoughts on why there haven’t been more women being showcased on their cards. While his words did come off as a bit sexist and offensive if you’re a woman in the sport, or even a man who simply respects women. I hope he didn’t mean to come off the way he did. He’s oviously not someone who was guided by a great P.R. machine by the words he chose in discussing a “really tricky” issue like the one he just found himself in.
“We had that one match and it was cool, but that was more of, ‘That’s cool and that was interesting and I want to see that again if the girls are cute.’ You know how it is. The UFC wouldn’t even have a women’s division if it wasn’t for Ronda Rousey. They wouldn’t even have it. It’s a really, really tricky thing.
“We’re not a charity right now,” he states. “I have aspirations beyond Metamoris that are charitable and everything I need to do, but right now we have to succeed. We have so many people riding on it with so many things and people wanting to see it succeed. Our obligation is to make sure people say, ‘Holy shit! I need to watch that!’ Otherwise, there’s no way.”
–Ralek Gracie at MMAFighting.com
I will say this, women’s sports in general are harder sells to the public. They generally aren’t as deep in the talent pool of their male counterparts, take boxing for example. Over the years there’s been few big neames in the sport but not much opposition to showcase them against. In other venues sports take on a different feel which turns off many fans. In the NBA people love watching what goes on above the rim, which is something that the WNBA has never been able to provide. So it doesn’t generate the buzz that their men’s version does. The same could be said about women’s MMA (Minus Rousey). Much like the lighter men’s divisions they get overshadowed by the the much bigger wightclasses that often showcase some of the more brutal knockouts that make ESPN’s top plays of the night.
Now the difference between those sports and Jiu-Jitsu (also throw in Judo/Sambo/Wrestling) is that there’s very little if any difference between the male and female versions of the sport. When I watch Worlds or PanAms, I never feel like I’m being robbed when the commentary switches over to the women. The complete opposite really. With the sport the way it is, the day to day grind for women is often done against bigger or strong men. So the beauty about being a smaller fighter, male or female, is that you have to become a more technical practicioner in order to negate that disadvantage in the gym.
I understand this is all about money and you want to put together what will give you the best return on your investment, but this just feels like lazy booking to me. While the Eddie Bravo Invitational doesn’t have the presentation that Metamoris has, it did something that was veryforward thinking. Eddie Bravo recently put on EBI3 which is very similar in scope, but with the added reward of showcasing a teen women’s superfight between Grace Gundrum and Alyssa Wilson. Which was a VERY entertaining fight and by the end of the event some believed stole the show.
I don’t believe that the #SupportWomensBjj trend is asking for much here. Just stop being a lazy booker, find the best match ups possible, and put them on the card like you would do any of the men. There’s really no excuse for why more women aren’t on your events and I honestly hope that with time things change for the better.