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Ultimate Fighting Championship isn't just for men

Saturday, October 08, 2011

The Ultimate Fighting Championship is in Houston for the weekend and its big names, world-renowned fighters, are drawing thousands of fans to the George R. Brown Convention Center. The competitive mixed martial arts league is a billion-dollar business run by Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, cousins of Houston's Tillman Fertitta.

UFC outsells boxing and wrestling on Pay-Per-View but the sport is no longer just for the boys.

When you think of ultimate fighting, the image of a steel cage and two men going head to head might pop into your mind. But for fans attending this weekend's UFC Expo, it's much more. It has everything from classes with their favorite fighters, to getting up close and personal with the guys who lay it on the line in a steel cage.

"It's an honor to be able to sign something and it means anything to somebody but even more than to make somebody's day," light heavyweight fighter Phil Davis said.

"It's great how they are interacting with the public and the ordinary people," UFC fan Steven Salas.

"Well I was hoping to see GSP -- my favorite fighter -- but really my husband is the biggest fan," UFC fan Abigail Beascochea said.

About 25,000 fans are expected to walk through these doors. Some are there for the expo, but many will be competing themselves. It's a tournament for all ages and skill levels, and it's not just men hitting the mats -- there are women too.

"I am competing in my first lightweight tournament for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu," Roxanne Martinez said.

Martinez has been preparing for weeks. She says it's her family that got her into the sport.

"My sister started and she wanted someone a little smaller to go against so I got into it," Martinez said.

UFC says they are seeing more and more women not only enjoying the sport, but also jumping in themselves.

"I feel like there are more women here than guys; occasionally a guy with his girlfriend but more women coming with their girlfriends so I think it's getting really popular, especially in the female demographic," Davis said.

On Friday, Martinez came in third and says she will be back, better than ever.

"My family said I did good for my first tournament. I actually tried and went for submissions," she said.

If you didn't make it out to Friday's UFC expo, the doors will reopen Saturday morning at 10am. On Saturday night is the main event between Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard.

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