Female fighters prominent in Topps latest UFC trading card release

In the last year, Topps has made a significant breakthrough with the increasing number of female athletes featured on its trading card products. Starting in autumn 2013 with its card set commemorating the American contingent competing at the Sochi Winter Games; other female athletes were given the trading card treatment in 2014, as part of Topps annual Allen and Ginter plus World Wrestling Entertainment card releases.

With autumn marking hockey card season, Topps counters with its newest offering featuring the heroes from Ultimate Fighting Championship. A 200-card base set, UFC Champions consists of the most competitors from the women’s division in any one set.

The first card in the set featuring a member of the women’s division is number 9 as Jessica Andrade is featured. Following her at number 10 is Julianna Pena. Part of Team Rousey during the 18 season of The Ultimate Fighter, she would defeat Jessica Rakoczy in the season finale. Currently suffering from an injury to her right knee, her presence in the set can only help build the momentum for her comeback.

Gold variation on Ronda Rousey's trading card (Obtained from http://www.cardboardconnection.com/)

Gold variation on Ronda Rousey’s trading card (Obtained from http://www.cardboardconnection.com/)

Two other fighters from season 18 of The Ultimate Fighter are part of the set. Peggy Morgan, another member of Team Rousey, is known as the Daywalker. Featured on card number 57, Morgan lost to Jessamyn Duke in the season finale of Ultimate Fighter 18. Raquel Pennington, whose nickname is Rocky, graces card number 179. A member of Team Tate during the season, she defeated Roxanne Modafferi by unanimous decision in the season finale. Her first UFC fight after said finale came on March 15, 2014, suffering a loss to Jessica Andrade.

Women’s champion Ronda Rousey, quite possibly the most popular competitor in UFC can be found on card number 76. Only three of the four competitors that Rousey has defeated in UFC have also been given the cardboard treatment.

Liz Carmouche, the first-ever opponent of Rousey in the UFC can be found on card 119. One of Rousey’s biggest rivals, Miesha Tate, who was defeated by armbar submission on December 28, 2013, is on card 42. Of note, card 116 features Sara McMann, facing defeat in the first round on February 22, 2014. Canadian Alexis Davis, which elevated Rousey’s career MMA record to 10-0, was not featured

Rousey’s next opponent, Cat Zingano is on card 97. Ranked as one of the top five female MMA Fighters in the world, Zingano will challenge Rousey at UFC 182 on January 3, 2015. Another top ranked fighter in the set is Bethe Correia. Hailing from Brazil, she holds a 9-0 record in MMA. Card number 91 is where collectors can find her. Another Brazilian featured in the set is Amanda Nunes. On card 35, the Lioness of the Ring holds a 2-1 career mark in UFC. Her loss came to Cat Zingano at UFC 178 on September 27, 2014.

The fighters involved in one of the more controversial UFC women’s matches are both part of the set. Jessica Eye, whose October 19, 2013 victory over Sarah Kaufman was overturned due to testing positive for marijuana can be found on cards 106 and 133. Of note, Eye is looking for her first-ever UFC win, and is hoping to obtain it after a November 15, 2014 match against Leslie Smith.

Kaufman, the first Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion also earned the first-ever Hardcore Championship Fighting Women’s Bantamweight Champion. Having lost to Rousey in Strikeforce competitions, she has a 17-2 career mark.

Of note, the female fighters even make their way into the various insert sets. Of note, Rousey leads the way as she can be found in 9 different insert sets. Such sets include Autographs, Autographed Relics, Autographed Jumbo Fight Mats, Champions Single Belt, Champions Full Belt, Fight Night Highlights, Octagon Greats, Octagon Greats Autographed and Mat Relics.

Jessica Eye and Julianna Pena join Rousey in the Autographed insert cards. Part of the Autographed Relic inserts includes the likes of Amanda Nunes and Miesha Tate. Of note, Pena is also part of the Autographed Jumbo Fight Mat Relics set.

Considering that in years past, the only women of the UFC that were featured on trading cards were the ring girls, the inclusion of so many fighters (especially with the insert sets) in its base set is an encouraging sign that the women’s division is a substantial part of UFC.

Seattle slugfest makes women’s sporting history as UFC features first match between lesbian fighters

In reflecting on the UFC’s historic fight between two lesbian fighters featured on UFC on Fox 8, it is another statement in the promotion’s effort in bolstering the women’s division. As 2013 emerges as the Year of the Female Fighters in UFC, it is a long overdue event finally earning its share of the spotlight.

Despite the ground breaking historical impact of the match between Liz Carmouche and Jessica Andrade, it certainly augments debate among the most hardened of sports cynics. From the outset, one cannot help but wonder if this was for sheer publicity. Does this event help generate interest among lesbians?

If there were two UFC male fighters that were gay, the odds of such a match being promoted are unlikely. There is no question that UFC has a very manly and somewhat barbaric feel to it. If a male fighter even felt comfortable admitting to being gay, it could unleash significant backlash due to insensitive remarks and the possibility that some fighters may not feel comfortable fighting a gay man.

Of note, Carmouche (known affectionately as Girlrilla) was the first openly gay fighter, among women and men in UFC. A former United States Marine, the 29 year-old sports an 9-3 mark who turned UFC on its ear when she challenged Ronda Rousey at UFC 157. Originally, she was supposed to fight Miesha Tate in the match but Tate was rescheduled to face Rousey in December.

The weigh-in between Carmouche (left) and Andrade before their ground-breaking UFC fight

The weigh-in between Carmouche (left) and Andrade before their ground-breaking UFC fight

Her role as a pioneering female athlete may still take time to absorb. From being called a role model by kids, to seeing more female fighters train in her community to the invitations to appear in Pride Parades, Carmouche may quickly become as big a household name as Ronda Rousey.

While Andrade, a 21 year-old fighter from Brazil whose record is 9-3, has certainly helped to impact people’s lives also, this was her first fight in the United States. As the youngest fighter in the UFC, her nickname is Bate Estaca, which is Brazilian for Piledriver. She acquired the nickname after trying to use the illegal move during a jiu-jitsu event in Brazil.

This was the issue that Carmouche faced when she was in the Marine Corps. Closeted during her time serving her country, she admitted her same-sex preference from the beginning of her fighting career. In that regard, the groundbreaking fight is definitely liberating for these two fighters as they can express who they are.

It is ironic that UFC is the one sporting promotion that openly discussed the lesbian topic without fear of reprisal or controversy. While other sports have had female athletes such as Sami Grisafe (football), Sheryl Swoopes (basketball) and Sarah Vaillancourt (hockey) publicly admit their same-sex preference, there are many more who only admit to such a thing after retirement.

With the Fox network having broadcast the event, these two exceptionally conditioned athletes showed that they earned their recognition in the national spotlight. Although the first round saw the fighters engage in back-and-forth grappling, Andrade actually picked up Carmouche and slammed her to the mat. With Carmouche in an arm-in guillotine, she fell behind in the score 10-9 to Andrade.

After trading leg kicks to start the second round, Carmouche took charge. Although Andrade escaped a rear naked choke, Carmouche would get her in a high mount. Engaging in a ground-and-pound, referee Herb Dean stopped the match and awarded the decision to Carmouche.

While Carmouche mentioned to the Vancouver Province (prior to the fight) that they were matched up due to their exciting fighting styles, fans can only hope that the future will see more fighters judged on their athleticism and not their preferences.