Fighting Men vs. Fighting Women – Advantatges and Disadvantages

With Fallon Fox coming out as a transgender fighter, the age old debate about men being more dominant than women when going into a fight has started up again.

Although women have caught up in terms of strength and fight training, there are still differences in how both genders fight in terms of body type. The men are built with the ability to work with less fat and more muscle. While a healthy guy can run on 3-5% of body fat, women need at least 10-16%. So a man fighting at 135 pounds will have more muscle mass than a women the same size if both are in optimal range.

That fact works both ways, however. With more muscle mass, the body uses more oxygen and gassing out is more common in men than women.

Another fact is that women are more flexible then men, and are harder to submit in armbars and leglocks. You can argue that the armbar is the most common submission for women (Ronda Rousey and Megumi Fujii are famous for them) but if you look at the average times of women fending them off, they outshine the men by leaps and bounds. Flexibility also comes into play when it comes to positioning, including rubber guards and figure fouring the body more comfortably.

Men do have harder bones than women, but women’s flexibility enables them to kick higher and faster at times.

Pain threshold is also something the women have an advantage. On an episode of “Mythbusters” in 2010, an experiment showed that women outperformed their male counterparts when it came to keeping their hand in an ice cold bowl of water. This is also confirmed by a report in Time Magazine, which explained estrogen dulls pain receptors.

In this case, Fox is most likely on estrogen, which may dull her pain receptors but lowers her testosterone, which lessens muscle mass.

Ultimately, it is all about technique. Just as some fighters, male or female, are better in different aspects of the game (i.e. grappling or striking), it is using the tools you are given.


4 thoughts on “Fighting Men vs. Fighting Women – Advantatges and Disadvantages”

  1. I’m not a physician, but have been in the medical field for some time. I feel like Fox has had 30 years to become physically superior to what any women would naturally be able to. Men typically have denser muscles, bones, tougher skin, increased lung volume, better vision/depth perception, bigger hands, etc, etc. Even having been on estrogen/progesterone for 2 years, I don’t feel like synthetic hormones for 2 years can undo what nature did over the course of 30 years. Also, it has been said that the estrogen makes it difficult for Fox to maintain what she had previously developed as a man. Difficult, but not impossible.

    I’ve known women who have had hysterectomies and began hormone replacement therapy. They have said that the HRT does not completely restore everything to pre-hysterectomy state. Thus, I would suspect synthetic hormones are probably not as potent as real hormones produced by the body. Also, she takes them either in pill form or cream form. So she must absorb the hormones through the digestive tract or through her skin. Is absorption through an extrinsic source as efficient as intrinsic? Is she getting the same amount as a natural born female? Is a natural born female’s body, one that is genetically wired to depend on estrogen, affected to a greater extent than a body that is not genetically wired to depend on female hormones? Basically, do those hormones affect Fox’s body the same way it would a natural female?

    These are questions that should be answered. Concerning the olympic committees that state after 2 years of hormone replacement a transgendered individual is safe to compete, point sparring with padding (like TKD) is much different than an MMA fight.

    On a side note, does Fox even menstruate? Is she affected by all the symptoms that accompany menstruation? Bloating, cramping, fatigue, water retention that make training and cutting weight difficult?

    I think there are too many unanswered questions to be able to safely say with any certainty that she is on level playing ground with natural born women.

    1. I think in terms of lung size it is relative – some women have bigger ones and some guys have smaller ones.

      The point is that women do have advantages in a fight, and that any physical ability a man has can be overcame by the tools a woman has. I don’t foresee an actually man fighting a woman anytime soon, but now that it is out, Fox’s opponents can be better prepared.

  2. Let’s also not forget that Fox has been on hormone replacement/suppression therapy for nearly a decade, and has been post-op for 5+ years. She passes muster to compete in the Olympics as a woman, so I say it’s a non-issue. Medical professionals contacted by Bloody Elbow’s Stephy Daniels have said the same thing.

  3. Dont forget that a mans testicles are an extremely vulnerable area that women can use to their advantage, and even if she does not kick them, the fact that should could is enough to make a male concentrate a lot of his energy on making sure the area is defended

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