UFC boss Dana White has criticized feminist activists calling for bikini-clad models to be dropped from MMA events stating that his promotion is not going to ditch Octagon girls who are “part of the UFC brand.”
The so-called anti-cheerleaders campaign which has rapidly spread all over the world affecting multiple sports has finally reached MMA with female advocate groups urging organisers to stop using models between rounds, something that they see as sexual exploitation of women.
Multiple calls to scrap the “outdated” tradition of inviting Octagon girls were voiced ahead of UFC 243 at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium on October 6, which will be headlined by Robert Whittaker’s bout against Kiwi Israel Adesanya.
“It’s 2019, do we really still need scantily clad women to wander around the middle of a fighting ring between rounds? Grid girls are no longer part of Formula One, walk-on girls are no longer part of professional darts – surely it’s time to move on,” said Lord Mayor of Melbourne Sally Capp, who was behind the initiative.
However, the UFC boss made it clear he is not going to follow in the footsteps of Formula One organizers who discontinued their use of grid girls, stressing that the models “are ambassadors for the sport.”
“Our Octagon girls, they’re as much a part of the UFC brand as anyone, they’re ambassadors for our sport,” White said.“So for someone who has absolutely no education whatsoever about who these girls are — about what they do, what they mean to the UFC — to start going off, it’s ridiculous.”
“So you can look at any sport you like, nobody treats women better than we do. And I’d suggest these people calling on them to be banned go have a look at what these girls do with the company, the type of money they’re making,” he added, defending the idea of the between-rounds custom.
Feminist campaigns have already left cheerleaders jobless in several sports, such as Formula one, bicycle racing, boxing and basketball.
At the beginning of September, rings girls were replaced by men at an Aussie boxing event after coming under fire from local activists and women’s advocacy groups.
Last week, German basketball club Alba Berlin announced the decision to ban their long-time cheerleaders, stressing that they no longer need “attractive break fillers.”