The Monumental Significance Of Fight 2 Win’s First Female-Only Event At F2W 162

Photo By: Kyu Shot Ya

This Friday, Fight 2 Win will put on their first-ever all-female event. The card will be stacked with some of the best athletes in jiu-jitsu, headlined by a match between Ana Carolina Vieira and Rafaela Guedes with a co-main event between Amanda “Tubby” Alequin and Nathalie Ribeiro. Jiu-jitsu legend Hannette Staack will also be on the card, facing off against Luanna Alzuguir, and Talita Alencar and Gabrielle McComb will be going head-to-head as well. And that’s just the final four matches of a card comprised of over forty.

Just a few years ago, getting even a small handful of high-profile female competitors on a professional jiu-jitsu card was virtually unheard of. If cards featured any women’s matches at all, they were treated more like tokens — a placating pat on the head for women and girls in jiu-jitsu who just wanted a small crumb of representation in the sport they loved. The idea of a main event being a women’s match was virtually unheard of.

Fight 2 Win has been one of the driving forces in professional jiu-jitsu events pushing for better female representation in competitive BJJ. They made the effort — an actual effort — to get female matches on their cards. They made women’s matches main and co-main events. They pay male and female competitors equally. Even so, when they announced that they’d be hosting their first-ever all-female event, there was no question that this was an ambitious and even a risky move.

Though jiu-jitsu is more popular than ever among women and girls, it’s no secret that women’s competitive divisions are significantly smaller than men’s. You can blame part of it on different training motivations between men and women (men often come into jiu-jitsu from high school wrestling backgrounds or wanting to pursue a competitive fighting career, while jiu-jitsu is more frequently marketed to women as a self-defense skill), but the bottom line is that man still vastly outnumber women in BJJ. Indeed, there are still many gyms that only have one or two female students, and for small or mid-sized BJJ academies, having ten women training consistently is pretty significant.

It can’t be overstated that in making this event happen, F2W has done what would have been considered impossible and impractical just five years ago. No one bats an eye when an entire jiu-jitsu card is filled with male matches, to the point where we don’t feel the need to call them “male-only” events or specify that divisions are “the male ____weights.” Women in jiu-jitsu are still having to call out promotors and start petitions for equal pay and representation. Men make up the majority in jiu-jitsu, and so they’re considered the default even in 2021.

Fight 2 Win isn’t the first promotion to pull off a female-only event, of course. EBI has hosted women’s brackets for some time now, and Submission Hunter Pro 60 featured an entire card of female competitors as well. But F2W is known for putting on lengthy events with dozens of matches in one night, and they made damn sure they weren’t going to change that for this event.

It’s honestly hard to say if anyone outside of Fight 2 Win actually expected an all-female card of this size to happen in the immediate future. The promotion already has a good reputation among the women’s jiu-jitsu community, and I don’t think anyone would have faulted them for sticking with their usual lineup of mostly male matches with a handful of female matches in the mix. Women in jiu-jitsu are used to small or nonexistent divisions at tournaments, and while an entire Fight 2 Win card comprised of female matches would be nice, it still feels too good to be true. Yet, it’s real, and it’s about to happen before our very eyes.

This drive for “more” and the push to make it happen is exactly what has defined Fight 2 Win from the beginning, though. They’ve dared to make jiu-jitsu exciting, giving grapplers the superstar treatment. They’ve paid out millions of dollars to their athletes over the past few years. They helped transform ADCC into the event it always should have been. For them, it’s not enough to meet the standard — they have to set new ones. With F2W 162, they’re proving that it is possible to find enough women to fill a card that’s expected to last about six hours (which is why they plan to do it at least twice more; February 27 and March 27 also have all-female F2W events scheduled now).

Personally, I hope to one day see a world in which female-only jiu-jitsu cards are rendered unremarkable. The goal doesn’t have to be to put together all-female cards, just to have a substantial number of female matches at any given event by any given promotion. After this weekend, though, no one will be able to use the excuse that an event like this “can’t be done.” Jiu-jitsu history will be made, and from here on out, it’s up to every other promotion to meet the new standard or stay stuck in the past.


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