While I was in Las Vegas on another story, I went to the Ultimate Fighting Champion match that the Strip was buzzing about (“Girls Fight Out,” Matter, December 9). I had never had any exposure to UFC, but I saw quickly that this was a story that hadn’t been told in the mainstream media: That UFC was the fastest growing sport in the world, and that there was a real potential to understand something about the way the world was changing and why a sport whose goal was pain was being marketed as pure and wholesome.
I ended up telling a story about the women in the sport. The women are the surprising tool of legitimacy in this sport: They’re charismatic and interesting, much more than the grunting, mouth-breathing men. The women have rivalries and great backstories. But they’re also incredibly cruel to each other.
UFC doesn’t normally let media behind the scenes the way I was allowed. This story, when it was published, was called one of the best MMA stories of the year by the beat reporters who aren’t permitted to tell the stories that mainstream media is.