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Breast Punch TKO at UFC Fight Night 241 Raises Concerns in Women’s MMA



Tamires Vidal’s technical knockout loss to Melissa Gatto at UFC Fight Night 241, which occurred as a result of a punch to the breast, has sparked a debate in women’s MMA.

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Tainara Lisboa, who was part of the UFC Fight Pass Brasil commentary team for the event, noted that the rules are the same for men and women — which means there is no foul for blows to the breasts. However, Lisboa pointed out that such strikes could cause the appearance of nodules, which lead to breast cancer.

The need for debate gained even more traction after reporter Evelyn Rodrigues' post-fight with Melissa Gatto.

“Studying for the fight I noticed that she felt a lot of pain with punches to the breast in some previous fights, so I made a point of asking the referee, when he came to my locker room before the fight, if I hit the area it would be a foul, and he made it clear that it would not be an illegal [strike],” Gatto said. “The referee himself clarified that if I hit her and she asked to stop, that I should continue fighting. He himself said only when I said so. And that’s exactly what I did.

Lisboa’s remarks and Gatto’s interview sparked further debate on the topic after UFC Fight Night 241. ON his “Momento Bravo” Youtube podcast on Sunday, IMMAF refereeing director Guilherme Bravo made a point to emphasize that Gatto played by the rules.

“Melissa was intelligent, she studied the rules, noticed her opponent's weak point and worked on it,” Bravo said. “The issue here is not to blame the athlete, but to raise a necessary debate for the evolution of the sport, which today is played by men and women, but the rules were made only by men.”

Carlao Barreto, the main commentator for UFC Fight Pass Brasil, agreed with Bravo on his Monday podcast, “Papo de Luta.”

“I sent a message to Claudia Gadelha, who is now a UFC employee, as soon as the broadcast ended,” Barreto said. “Women need to come together to do something. It may not necessarily be changing the rules, but at least creating an official outfit for girls with a mandatory protective bustier. UFC is not redesigning gloves to evolve the sport, it would be the same path towards protecting women. Especially if there are already studies proving the link between blows to the breasts and breast cancer.”

Bravo also pointed out that the Association of Boxing Commissions will have a large meeting this year to define the downed fighter rule, and this would be an excellent opportunity to discuss this issue as well.

“Debate is always important for the evolution of the sport,” he said. “I think the girls could take advantage of this important ABC vote this year to bring this issue to debate. This is serious stuff.”
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