Mother’s Day has arrived and once again it’s time to pay homage to the special women whose impact on the sport we love will always be secondary to that they’ve had on their children no matter how many championships are won. You can’t spell “mama” without MMA, and that’s certainly the case when it comes to the five ladies I’ve picked this year as the top pound-for-pound matriarchs in Mixed Martial Arts…
1. Ronda Rousey / Ana Marie DeMars
In addition to being an arm-breaking bad-ass in her own right, DeMars helped cultivate Rousey into an Olympic medalist and UFC champion by starting her in the sport at an early age. She also helped instill an incredible work ethic and cold-blooded approach to competition in “Rowdy” Ronda, waking her up with Armbar attempts and disciplining her for crying even when injured. They’re inseparable and might be mistaken for best friends if one didn’t know better.
2. Benson Henderson / Song
Henderson’s mother helped raise him and his brother by putting in countless hours at a convenience store she owned, also getting him into Tae Kwon Do as a youngster. Without her influence he would never have excelled to the top of the lightweight division and his love for her is always on display. The sentiment is mutual too, as she’s admitted to watching his title-win over Frankie Edgar almost every day. Also endearing, the two entered a grappling tournament together a few months back AND she won a bronze medal!
3. Chael Sonnen / Claudia Sonnen
Sure, she nearly blasted Yushin Okami in the face with a shotgun when he unexpectedly showed up in town to work out with her son, but Sonnen’s affection for her baby boy and his chosen profession are always on display when she’s around. Labeled by Chael as the “definition of supporting”, he also brings her in as a cornerman – or corner-mom more like it – when it comes to training sessions.
4. Cat Zingano
Zingano is one of two mothers on this list who are also high-level Mixed Martial Artists. The well-rounded “Alpha” earned a spot opposite Rousey on TUF 18 by beating Miesha Tate in an entertaining Octagon debut and maintained a flawless record in the process as well. Zingano has cited her son as the driving force behind her desire to succeed on numerous occasions, saying she is always out to make him proud.
5. Sara McMann
Like Zingano, the undefeated McMann is a mother who calls the UFC home. The silver-medalist wrestler has also said being a mom is often more difficult than stepping in the cage since the stakes are higher and the outcome of choices less-defined.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: No slights intended to all the amazing mothers out there, MMA-related and not. Now stop reading this article and go give your mom a hug!)
Front-Page Photo Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports