The Dress is Black and Blue

The Dress is Black and Blue
06 Mar 2015


Ronda Rousey could beat a man in a fight, even if that man happened to be a professional fighter. The evidence is in her observed skillset. The possibility cannot be discounted.  But a mixed-gender fight should never happen because there are only negative outcomes. It should just be a contest between two athletes, but I don’t believe it is possible to discount the physical differences (perhaps advantages) and social leanings that would undoubtedly be at play. In other words, it might be the fighters that make this fight uneven, the fans themselves, or both.


Though women’s MMA is still catching up to men’s, men aren’t better at fighting than women. Ronda’s takedowns are Olympic-caliber, her armbars are endorsed by Rener Gracie as the best he’s felt, and her striking is solid and improving, though not severely tested. She’s all but cleaned out her division, so the question remains – why shouldn’t she fight a man?


One of the things that make this question so compelling is that Ronda would be fighting at an assumed disadvantage.  From

– Men have 30% more lung capacity.

– Female blood contains 20% fewer red cells, which supply oxygen to the body, which means quicker fatigue.

– Men are 50% stronger in “brute strength.”

– Men have a higher BMR (This could mean that the male fighter would cut more weight, and in turn gain it back and weigh significantly more on fight night).

These numbers are a generality, and Ronda is anything but typical, but these items would likely still be a factor in the fight. The reason this matters is because every sport strives to put together a fair contest. Competitors should earn their advantages, not carry them into the arena genetically or artificially (PEDs).


Now that we’ve put Ronda’s abilities on one side of the scale, and science on the other, let’s examine the possible outcomes. If Ronda wins, the Rocky story is complete and the UFC’s pockets are bulging like a chipmunk’s cheeks.  But she’s lost in a career wormhole. What female fight is as fascinating for her now?  Let’s say she beats the #12-ranked male fighter at 135 lbs. – she’ll have to take on a top-10 fighter next, while the women’s division moves on without it’s biggest star.  If she wins, there’s no turning back.

If “Mr. X” opponent wins, the UFC’s most successful, charismatic women’s fighter very possibly sustains a career-altering injury. There are weight classes and divisions for a reason. With them in place, it’s a safer bet that the bodies giving the punishment better match the bodies taking it. Should Rousey avoid such injury, the male fighter still comes up short, as the usual cultural bias is applied, and he should have won. For him, it’s global thermonuclear war.  There is no “win.”


Women should fight women. Not because they belong in the kitchen, but because we call it “match-making.” Both fighters should be given an equal chance of winning, in any sense of the word, and separating by weight classes and divisions is a way to accomplish that. In the interest of safety, athletic integrity, and respect for the competitors, we should strive for sport over spectacle.