Khabib made headlines last month after he expressed his belief that “ring girls are the most useless people in martial arts.” The comments prompted a fierce response from long-time UFC ring girl Arianny Celeste, who stated on Instagram that “you don’t have to like me, but you will respect me.” Fellow UFC ring girl, Luciana Andrade, also clapped back at the former lightweight champ, asserting that her role isn’t just to announce rounds but to “represent the (UFC) brand when and where needed.”
It’s not the first time Nurmagomedov has voiced a controversial opinion regarding women in MMA. In 2018, Khabib told an audience in Saudi Arabia—a nation that has only in the last few years granted women the right to drive—that aspiring female fighters should instead “finish their husband” at home.
Ring girls, and their place in combat sports, is however a complicated topic, eliciting many different opinions. In 2016, then WBC female world super welterweight champ Mikaela Lauren branded ring girls “sexist” and demanded that, for her next fight, they be replaced by a male equivalent. And in 2019, when the UFC came to Melbourne, Australia, that city’s mayor expressed her desire to see ring girls banned from the event because, in her opinion, “it’s time to move on.”
Valentina Shevchenko Slams Khabib’s Comments, Defends Ring Girls
While some would like to see an end to ring girls, others fiercely defend their role as part of combat sports tradition. Following Khabib’s comments, Michael Bisping defended ring girls as a “historic” institution in combat sports while also, however, agreeing that they serve no practical purpose in martial arts.
Now, one of the most successful female mixed martial artists of all time, Valentina Shevchenko, has come to the defense of ring girls. In an interview with James Lynch, “The Bullet” slammed Khabib for his recent comments and said that without ring girls, the UFC wouldn’t be the success it is today.
“They were since the beginning of the UFC, they were since the beginning of everything,” said Shevchenko (h/t MiddleEasy). “And to say they don’t belong to martial arts, it’s so bad. It’s so not right because they are part. And it’s kind of like, without all of this, any fighter would not be in the position of where he is right now. If there wouldn’t be ring girls, there wouldn’t be lights, fans, sounds. It’s just boring, it’s just boring to see. But all these little details, they fulfill the full picture. That’s why there is no discussion — ring girls are part of the biggest promotions, smallest promotions of anything.”
You can watch Valentina’s interview below:
Do you agree with Valentina Shevchenko?