One version of the latest edition of ESPN the Magazine has a semi nude, heavily photo shopped image of Gina Carano on the cover. There she is shielding her bare breasts while throwing a side kick in a pair of what appears to be regulation Victoria’s Secret lace boy shorts. For those that are unfamiliar, Gina Carano, the fighter, has been commonly called ‘the face of professional women’s mixed martial arts (WMMA)’.
I am certain that this cover will sell a tremendous number of magazines to the 24-40 year old, white male demographic that is so well engaged by MMA and so highly sought after by Madison Avenue. WMMA is scratching for respectability and legitimacy in a male dominated sport and Gina Carano is its most marketable athlete.
While superior fighters like Cris Santos and WMMA in general struggle for acceptance, Gina Carano promotes herself (and her sexuality) as a pin-up girl that happens to be a decent fighter. The Maxim magazine spread that she also did offered little in the way of support for the concept of women fighters as true athletes and not merely participants in three 3-minute rounds of sexual fantasy; girls fighting in underwear sells like hotcakes.
Cleary, sex sells. I know that I am an 'egg head' doctor but this fact didn’t totally escape me. But what’s good for Gina’s show biz aspirations unfortunately does pitifully little for those dedicated women athletes who see the growth of WMMA as their future.