This past week has been huge for women's sports everywhere. But, we are not talking about all women's sport leagues like the LPGA Tour or the WNBA. Oh no. We are talking about women taking over the male leagues. In fact women are taking over some of the most male dominated leagues in all of sports: the UFC and NASCAR.
Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche
On Saturday night, the UFC made history by holding their first women's title fight. Ronda Rousey came in as the women's bantomweight title holder and faced challenger Liz Carmouche. Rousey came in as quite possibly the biggest women's MMA name and certainly one of the most successful. With the title and undefeated record on the line, the ladies made a thrilling debut. Rousey ended up retaining the belt with a submission by her signature armbar in the first round.
UFC 157 was held at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA. The Honda Center was near its capacity (around 18,000) selling a reported 15,525 tickets for a total gate revenue of $1.4 million. According to MMAPayout.com, Saturday's event was the most tickets sold out of the six UFC events ever held at the Honda Center. The only one with a higher return in terms of gate revenue was UFC 121 which featured Brock Lesner and Cain Velasquez.
Official PPV numbers are not released yet, and though it will not be the UFC's best showing, it should have garnered solid numbers based off of the number of tickets sold.
(Here is a good read from USA Today on how Ronda Rousey has changed women's MMA whether she wanted to or not.)
Even in a loss, Carmouche was not to be outdone. In competing, Carmouche has become the first openly gay fighter to fight in the UFC. UFC President Dana White came out in support of not just Carmouche, but LGBT fighters in general. In a press conference leading up to UFC 157, White said that there should not be an issue if a fighter did come out but if fighters were giving a hard time, White would fix it.
Danica Patrick has been blazing autoracing trails now for years. First it was in open wheel racing, now she competes in the closed confines of NASCAR's Nationwide and Sprint Cup series'.
The Daytona 500 is a historic race for any driver no matter what age, race, sex, or orientation. However, there were many things that a woman had never done before in the sport's biggest race. Patrick succeeded in becoming the first woman to win the pole after the qualifying rounds a week earlier. During the race, she became the first woman to lead a lap not just in the Daytona 500, but in NASCAR's top series.
Patrick ended up finishing eighth at Daytona, but that is no disappointing feat. The Daytona 500 is a race that takes experience to navigate. Although she started on the poll, a top-ten finish is extremely impressive.
The fans certainly noticed her impact as well. This year's running of the Daytona 500 pulled in a 10.0 TV rating, the highest rated Daytona 500 since 2006.
Barriers in all sports are being broken down and the media is taking notice. Sports can sometimes lag behind the rest of the world in terms of social perspective and thinking, but there seems to be a shift in time to where people other than straight men are getting their due respect.
We are in a time where the LGBT community and the women are making noise. You have two choices: 1) You can simply ignore it and continue to think that sports are only for men or 2) You can get with the times and realize that men and women can produce equally incredible feats in athletics regardless of sexual orientation or race or age. The media is taking notice and so should you.
Follow Kevin Rossi on Twitter @kevin_rossi.