You have to love a journalist that fails to do their due diligence. Bloody Elbow’s Brent Brookhouse recently wrote an article about Gilbert Melendez and Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos being the new “face” of Strikeforce, but in his article he “quoted,” and I use the term loosely, Miesha Tate. Brookhouse asserts “Tate said something that made no sense to me when she insisted that if women’s MMA needs a ‘face’ that it means that the sport will never make it. That’s an incredible detachment from the reality of combat sports.”
The entire SB Nation article can be read here.
Unfortunately, Brookhouse misrepresented the nature of Tate’s quote in an effort to further his agenda, as some writers do, looking for a story that isn’t there. I’m not sure if this is something Brookhouse has a habit of doing, but it lacks professionalism either way. I’ve spoken with Miesha on several different occasions and she has never once stated that WMMA doesn’t need “a face,” but that it needs “faces”. Mr. Brookhouse fails to emphasize in his quote is that Tate has always stressed the word “A” before face. Essentially, Tate is stating that a single woman does not need to be the face of the sport. The sport is filled with enough young, talented, and charismatic women that multiple faces can be used in its promotion. Of course, Brookhouse would never think to do something as simple as say…looking on Tate’s own Twitter account to see that she has made this assertion almost ad nauseam.
Tate offered her own opinion of the article with the following tweet: “Whoever wrote this is an idiot & misquoted me, I say women’s MMA has FACES now not just 1.” Having spoken with Miesha and Ronda before, I am here to tell you that both of these women actually agree that WMMA does not need a singular face, but rather a multitude of faces promoting the sport. Despite all of their differences outside of the cage, Rousey and Tate are in complete agreement that a single face of WMMA does more harm than good.
The common misconception among people is that a single individual or two must be in charge of carrying a sport. Ali had the late, great Joe Frazier and George Foreman. Tom Brady has Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, and now Tim Tebow. Magic had Jordan, Bird and Isaiah Thomas. Even Chuck Liddell had Tito Ortiz, Ken Shamrock, and Randy Couture. GSP has Anderson, Velasquez, Lesnar, Jon Jones, Urijah Faber, and Frankie Edgar. Yes, Mr. Brookhouse is missing the common thread here; there isn’t “a” face, but rather multiple faces.
What Mr. Brookhouse fails to understand is that men’s sports have long been established. Stars come and go as generations pass. Women’s MMA is in the infant stages compared to its male counterpart and attach a single face is very detrimental to the sport. Were Mr. Brookhouse any kind of sports historian, he would be familiar with the dangers of attaching a face to an upstart.
The University of Kentucky was hit with the Death Penalty by the NCAA for a massive point shaving scandal in the 1951. Alex Groza and Ralph Beard were among the players indicted in this point shaving scandal. The two had been drafted by the Indianapolis Olympians, a charter member of the NBA, and were banned by the NBA, along with every other player involved, from ever playing for the league again. Beard and Groza were the “faces” of the Indianapolis Olympians and their ban directly led to the franchise having to fold operations at the end of the 52-53 season.
Gina Carano was once considered the “face” of WMMA and her hiatus after her loss to Cristiane Santos greatly impacted the amount of attention the women in the sport received by mainstream media for a little. Such was a danger of attaching a single face an enterprise that needs multiple women to operate. This was the crux of Miesha’s argument when she said that the sport wouldn’t make it with “a face.” Mr. Brookhouse should ask himself whether or not it is even fair to place the onus of being “the face” of a sport upon any of these ladies is even fair at this juncture.
I’m not sure that Megumi Fujii would agree with someone anointing Cyborg the face of Women’s MMA. I’m not sure that Zoila Gurgel without agree with it either. I don’t think Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate, Julie Kedzie, or Rosi Sexton would agree with one woman being their spokesperson either. All of women have had a hand in constructing the image and landscape of WMMA. They have all laid their own bricks in the foundation with blood, sweat, and tears for the sport. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Rather than misquote women doing their best to make sure that all women’s fighters are recognized for their talents, perhaps Brookhouse could spend a little bit more time talking to them and he will discover that the majority of them are disenchanted with the idea of a single woman representing their sport, their ideals, and the paths these women took to get there. I think many of us are intelligent enough to figure out that a sport needs faces, but Brookhouse needs to understand that it’s “faces” not “face.” Tate has said that all along, he just chose not to listen.