I’ve bitched and moaned many times about the lack of opportunities for women in MMA nowadays. Things are slowly getting better but the clock is ticking and many female fighters can’t just wait around with fingers crossed, hoping that the next promotion to carry women’s MMA will focus on skills first instead of looks.
The biggest loss thus far in the history of women’s MMA? Laura D’Auguste, who left the sport two years ago to concentrate on her career as a nurse. She was widely considered to be one of the best fighters at 135 pounds … losing her to a Joe Blow dayjob is like GSP becoming a janitor rather than fighting in the UFC. Fuck helping people. Laura should be beating the shit out of fighters and making good money doing it. Here’s her story:
In April 1996, a hopeless and nervous woman in her early to mid twenty’s walked into a Woman’s Safe Seminar held by the Tiger Schulmann’s Karate Center in Oceanside. Laura D’Auguste’s mother signed her up for the seminar because Laura was in an abusive marriage, and she was worried about her daughter.
After the seminar Laura enrolled in a beginner program at Tiger Schulmann’s. She had no job and very little money. All the money Laura had went to raising her little girl, who was a toddler at the time. Sensei Guzman gave Laura an opportunity to work for the school to earn her tuition. She cleaned the mats, the windows, and the locker rooms while training regularly. At this same time, Laura enrolled in nursing school. She worked day and night to earn her nursing degree, her 2nd degree black belt, and her Level 2 Joshu, all at the same time.
If that wasn’t impressive enough, here’s what D’Auguste achieved in her short mixed martial arts career:
If the sport was in its infancy in 2002, then the concept of women competing in MMA was barely clearing the birth canal. But Laura D’Auguste was ahead of her time, and in events like New Jersey’s Ring of Combat and Reality Fighting and Japan’s Smackgirl, she was racking up wins against top lady warriors such as Amanda Buckner, Roxanne Modefferi and Megumi Yabushita, putting the world on notice that a bout featuring two females waging war was every bit as exciting as seeing a clash between two men.
What made D’Auguste special? The truth is, D’Auguste could really grapple – so much so that she’d compete in men’s divisions at NAGA tournaments. Her skills on the mat (honed to a razor’s edge at Tiger Schulmann fight team sessions) translated into an undefeated MMA record and a berth at the prestigious 2007 Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships, and by July of that year she was widely seen as the best 135-pound female fighter on the planet.
Losing such a promising fighter sucks nuts. Even if the WEC hits up women’s MMA in a big way and it’s a huge success, will we ever get to see Laura D’Auguste return to MMA? I’m thinking no, but I’d love to be wrong. Hey, I’m wrong enough on a regular basis, why not this time?