Stephen A. Smith has come in for considerable backlash for his recent comments on women involved in combat sports.
No stranger to controversy, Stephen A. Smith made headlines this week by revealing that he does not want to see women competing in the Octagon.
Smith’s comments actually began with the ESPN pundit praising the increased involvement of female coaches in sport but the conversation, which took place on the Black on the Air podcast, took a sharp turn to the negative.
“First of all, I love it. I think there’s an awful lot of women who are incredibly qualified to do the jobs they’re doing,” Smith started. “Where I jump off the bandwagon is where they try to engage physically. For example, I don’t ever want to see a woman boxing a man. I don’t want to see that. I don’t want to see a woman in the UFC fighting a man—even though there are some women out there that will kick the dude’s butt.
“When I think about pugilistic sports, I don’t like to see women involved in that at all. I just don’t like it. I wouldn’t pass, I wouldn’t promote legislating laws to prohibit them from doing so, but I don’t want to see women punching each other in the face. I don’t want to see women fighting in the Octagon and stuff like that. That’s just me.”
Smith’s opinion that female mixed martial artists should not compete against males is far less controversial than his revelation that he is not a fan of females competing in combat sports at all.
And some high-profile women involved in mixed martial arts have responded to Smith’s comments to let him know how uninformed his views are.
Former UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk, who engaged in one of the best fights of 2020 in a supremely technical title bout against Zhang Weili, led the criticism against Smith.
I appreciate your transparency @stephenasmith . Although I wish everyone at ESPN—and throughout the world—saw women’s sports in a positive light, I assure you that we women don’t need your support. #2020WorldMMAAwardsFightOfTheYear #NationalGirlsandWomenInSportsDay
— Joanna Jedrzejczyk (@joannamma) February 3, 2021
— 🇧🇷 @CrisCyborg.Com 🇺🇸 (@criscyborg) February 2, 2021
I am tired of simply saying "then don't watch" and letting guys like him on their way. I am also tired of guys like you attempting to tell women who've made a career out of fighting what to think about said comments. Sit down. Nobody asked you.
— Kaitlin Young (@kaitlin_young) February 3, 2021
“Shut up.” – Weili Zhang https://t.co/xhbCMTk4KH
— Angela Hill (@AngieOverkill) February 2, 2021
If you intend to continue giving Stephen A. Smith a platform to preach inequality in sports, you are taking an incredible risk in alienating fans and athletes alike. It is incredibly disappointing that you would promote a person who is so derisive women in sport @espnW
— Julie Kedzie (@julesk_fighter) February 3, 2021
— Claressa Gwoat Shields (@Claressashields) February 3, 2021