While mixed martial arts is primarily a male dominated sport, it does have female athletes. Female competition is more prominent in Japan, with promotions such as the all-female Valkyrie and JEWELS (formerly known as Smackgirl). However historically there has been only a select few major professional mixed martial arts organizations in the United States that invite women to compete. The main organizations to support female competition include, Strikeforce, Bellator Fighting Championships, the all female Invicta Fighting Championships and the now defunct EliteXC.
There has been a growing awareness of women in mixed martial arts due to popular female fighters and personalities such as Megumi Fujii, Miesha Tate, Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos, Ronda Rousey and Gina Carano among others. Carano quickly became known as “the face of women’s MMA” after appearing in a number of EliteXC events. This was furthered by her appearances on MGM Television’s 2008 revival of their classic game show American Gladiators.