MARCH 6, 2010. Las Vegas, Nevada. Ten fighters had gathered for a unique experiment in MMA: Lingerie fighting. Most had no idea what to expect, some weren’t even sure if it was real. “I remember asking when we were going to rehearse the bouts,” recalls Riley Norris [0-0], a retired lingerie fighter and professional wrestler. “They told me, ‘No rehearsals, this is real!’ That’s when I got even more excited, because for once, I didn’t have to hold back.”
Other fighters had been recruited from local gyms. “Roni and I were in the same cardio kickboxing class,” says Kathleen Dodd, referring to former LFC President Roni Taylor. “One day she asks me after class, ‘You seem pretty into this stuff, how would you like to try it out for real?'” She laughs at the memory, “I thought, what the hell, I’ve always wanted to get into a fight!”
Then came the twist. “She tells me that we’ll be fighting in lingerie. I thought, are you serious? What is this, like strip club foxy boxing?”
In fact, LFC would be anything but. Yes, the fighters would be in lingerie, and yes, they would be in a ring (later a cage), but that’s where the similarities end. “We’re out there on our terms, no one else’s,” says Sheila Cardinal [0-0], a longtime lingerie fighter and the only fighter from that original LFC event still on the active roster, having most recently competed at LFC27 [0-0]. “The object isn’t to giggle and have dollar bills thrown into the ring, it’s to win matches and look sexy doing it. These are real matches, these go on our records.”
Cardinal came up short in her debut match against Feather Hadden [0-0] for the inaugural LFC title, but that’s no surprise considering “The Hammer” would go on to win seventeen straight bouts before medically retiring in 2017. Now a coach at the LFC’s “Booty Camp” training facility in Topeka Kansas, Hadden looks back fondly on that first LFC event.
“A lot of those girls had no idea what they were in for,” laughs Hadden. “Beauty queens and fitness models trying not to get punched in the face. It was the Wild West. No coaches, no trainers, no commission. We’ve grown up a lot since then.” The sport would eventually fall under the purview of the NLAC (Nevada Lingerie Athletic Commission, which also regulated lingerie football before that league transitioned out of lingerie sports in 2012.) While a longstanding LVAC rule prevents standing strikes to the face, Hadden trains LFC hopefuls to be ready for just such a situation.
“That rule won’t be around forever,” says Hadden, “Plus, in the cage, sometimes things just ‘happen,’ you know?” she adds with a wink.
There were considerably less rules for that first event back in 2010. “I felt like Royce Gracie in there,” recalls Brenda Jones [0-0], who went on a ten-fight win streak of her own before getting stopped like so many others by Hadden at LFC11 [0-0]. “No rules, no limits, no holds barred. You could do whatever you wanted.”
So, ten years removed from that first event, where are these fighters now? Some, like Hadden and Cardinal, are still with the company. Some are retired. Others like Kristen Young have moved on from the sport. “That was a wild night,” laughs Young about her first and only lingerie fight, a loss to Kathleen Dodd. “I have all the respect in the world for the girls who are still at it, but once was enough for me!”
Would any of them consider coming back to the sport? “They have my number,” notes LFC1 [0-0] fighter Annie Day, who was just 19 at the time of her lingerie fighting debut. “What a comeback story that would be, eh? Never say never!”
Catch the most recent LFC event, LFC30 [0-0] now on streaming exclusively at https://lingeriefc.com/videos/lfc-30-born-to-be-wild-video/
Thanks for reading,