Sara McMann takes a bow. Pic by USA Today. Credit: Bred Penner

Today we celebrate those who we refer to as mother. These are women who not only brought us into this world, but raised us and taught us how to be better human beings. For the occasion I thought it’d be appropriate to create a list celebrating the top 10 mothers in MMA. For this list the women don’t necessarily have to be MMA fighters but be related to someone in MMA. So with that let’s look at these mothers:

10. Vera Gracie

Helio Gracie is renowned by almost everybody in the MMA community as the creator of Brazilian Jui-Jutsu and as a result the indirect creator of modern MMA. However, his marriage with his first wife Margarida which lasted fifty years has a big question mark as there was some kind of surrogate mother arrangement with a woman named Isabel “Belinha” Soares that yielded sons Rickson, Rorion and Relson. Following Margarida’s death after fifty years of marriage, Helio married a woman 32 years younger then himself named Vera. With Vera he had six children, sons Royler, Rolker, Royce and Robin, as well as daughters Rericka and Ricci. They remained married until Helio’s death.

9. Victoria Fertitta

The Fertitta name is synonymous with MMA because of the ownership of the UFC. Something people should remember is that if brothers Frank Fertitta III and Lorenzo Fertitta hadn’t bought the UFC and formed Zuffa LLC. the UFC probably wouldn’t exist today. To be blunt if their father Frank, Jr. hadn’t married a woman named Victoria Broussard, the Fertitta brothers wouldn’t exist, and well you get the idea. Victoria Fertitta married Frank Jr. in 1958 in Texas and stuck with him through his hard life in Vegas starting as a bellman and advancing to where he opened what is now the Palace Station. She raised two boys and stuck with the elder Fertitta until his death in 2009.

8. Casey Noland

For those who know of his woman may actually find this a little interesting or maybe even sketchy. Casey Noland is a MMA fighter who is a mother but that’s not the only reason why she’s on this list. She also has two children with UFC Hall of Famer Chuck Liddell, having met him back when she was still in her teens. However, she not only had children Trista and Cade with Liddell, but also has had a daughter with UFC fighter Tim Kennedy. I’m not going to make any judgements other then to say she is the mother of the children of two UFC fighters.

7. Peggy Morgan

This mother should actually be respected more from what she’s done outside of the cage more then what she’s done inside. Peggy Morgan was a participant in season 18 of The Ultimate Fighter defeating Bethany Marshall to get into the house. During her time in the house we learned that she has a son and that she was also an adjunct college professor when she wasn’t pursuing MMA as a career. She ultimately lost her first fight in the house to Sarah Moras as well as her finale match with Team Rousey teammate Jessamyn Duke. However, while she is no longer in the UFC, she is getting a second breath in her career having been signed with Invicta FC.

6. Jessica Rakoczy

The former boxing champion turned MMA fighter has had to overcome several obstacles to get to where she is today. She was raised in an abusive household and had to deal with the death of her mother. However, she found solace in boxing and eventually became a single mother, having to leave her son in order to compete on season 18 of The Ultimate Fighter. She ultimately proved to be the black horse of the competition going to the finals of the show. She lost to winner Julianna Pena, she’s still listed on the UFC roster despite a loosing record.

5. Rosi Sexton

Rosi Sexton is without a doubt one of the pioneers of women’s MMA. Sexton competed in the first Cage Warriors event and has been involved in many promotions including two fights in the UFC. Not to mention she currently writes for Fighters Only magazine, all while raising a son. To top it all off she somehow found the time to earn a PhD. This also makes her probably the most educated fighter in MMA today.

4. AnnMaria De Mars

This woman is very accomplished considering everything she’s had to undergo. De Mars was an accomplished judoku becoming the first American woman to win a Judo World Championship in 1984, coming out of retirement to do so. In addition she had went to graduate school and also went onto earn a PhD. In addition she had to deal with the loss of her first husband and dealt with a child who had a speech impediment that she taught judo to and who would become successful in her own right. That daughter’s name is Ronda Rousey.

3. Michelle Waterson

Known as the “Karate Hottie” Michelle Waterson is a pretty accomplished mother in MMA. Waterson began fighting in 2007 and became known for her looks and karate based fighting style. In late 2010 she announced that she was pregnant and supposedly engaged to the father. After taking a year off to give birth and raise daughter Araya, Waterson returned to competition and went onto become the Invicta FC Atomweight Champion. Because of the smaller frame it’s unlikely we’ll see Waterson in the UFC even upon the launch of the Strawweights.

2. Cat Zingano

Cat Zingano is another woman having to not only raise a child and compete in MMA but is also having to overcome tragedy. Zingano first started competing in MMA in 2008 and won several championships before making her way to the UFC. She became the first mother to compete in MMA defeating Meisha Tate for a coaching position in season 18 of The Ultimate Fighter. However, an injury forced her to undergo several treatments for her knees then had to deal with her husbands suicide. Hope she will rebound from the adversity.

1. Sara McMann

This woman is probably the best example of a mother in MMA. Sara McMann has overcome tragedy and turned it into triumph as well as accomplishing many things in both the sports of MMA and Olympic wrestling. She’s had to deal with both the death of her older brother and her fiance. At the same time she became the first American woman to earn an Olympic Silver Medal in wrestling and earned a title shot against UFC Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey. She may have lost but she got to return to her daughter and looks to rebound.

While you are going about today be sure to remember to wish your mother or motherly figure a Happy Mothers Day! Leave a comment!