Fighting Visibility: Sports Media and Female Athletes in the UFC

Univ. of Illinois. Mar. 2021. 256p. ISBN 9780252085727. pap. $24.95. SPORTS
The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) began in 1993 with its founders not wanting women to participate—and consisted only of men participating in tournaments to determine which martial artist rose above the rest of the competitors representing various martial arts disciplines. It became known as mixed-martial arts (MMA), and represented competitors specializing in jiujitsu, karate, judo, and kickboxing. McClearen (radio-television film, Univ. of Texas, Austin) examines UFC in light of participation by women in MMA, especially as the sport created more recognition for women athletes, notably Ronda Rousey, who became the UFC’s highest-paid athlete. McClearen looks at some of the exploitative practices in the sport, where fighters are often unpaid or underpaid. She also describes the sexism, racism, and homophobia that are ever-present in the sport. Notably, the author shows discrepancies in health care, including how fighters are responsible for their own medical costs outside the contracted period for a fight.
VERDICT With an extensive bibliography, this well-researched account sheds insight into the various issues that women in sport face, and the costs of their high visibility. Those teaching and studying sport management should consider reading this book and using it in their research. Highly recommended.
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