The time finally has come for women in Mixed Martial Arts.
With fighters such as Gina Caranoand Cris Cyborg paving the way in a male-dominated sport, the UFC crowned its first women's bantamweight champion in Ronda Rousey just last weekend.
Extreme Caged Rentals follows suit this weekend, with Monmouth's Jenna Fox fighting for the local organization's first women's bantamweight title at Caged Aggression IX: Return of the Champions.
The two-day event takes place Friday and Saturday at the QCCA Expo Center in Rock Island.
Fox (9-0) fights Saturday against Kim Woods (3-0). Tickets are available at cagetix.com or call563-676-8700 for more information.
"It's exciting that the door is open now, and that's something to look forward to in the future," Fox said. "But I take it one fight at a time. It's very cool to see women breaking down barriers now, though."
Ironically, Fox never intended to get into the ring in the first place.
She participated in volleyball and track at United High School and only stumbled into an MMA gym just before graduation looking for an intense workout.
"But the more I did it," Fox said, "the more I wanted to compete in the cage to see if that was something I could handle."
As a member of Central Illinois Combat Club, Fox has shown she belongs, rolling up a perfect record.
"I feel like I have improved a lot over the past few months," Fox said. "I want people to realize that I'm talented and I work hard and don't give up. They are going to see big things from me in the future."
But as any fighter knows, the next bout is only half the battle.
Some say MMA training is sometimes more challenging than theactual bout.
Nutrition also is one of the key elements to winning that fight, and in October, Fox made some drastic changes to her diet as she went on the Paleo Diet.
"I avoid grains and dairy andanything that would cause allergic reactions," explained Fox. "My body has responded very well tothat."
Now, as the sport grows and more girls and women go to join gyms and look into MMA, Fox has a message for them.
"Don't be too nervous," Fox said. "As long as you go to the right gyms, people will teach you things, and the training will get more intense as you learn to handle that."
So far, the experience has worked out perfectly for Fox.
Today is Saturday, May 18, the 138th day of 2013. There are 227 days left in the year. 1863 -- 150 years ago: A large variety of children's wagons and gigs have arrived in thecity and are being sold at war prices. 1888 -- 125 years ago: All Rock Island retail houses, with the exception of a clothingstore and a jewelry store, have agreed to early closing hours during the summer months.The store will be closed at 8 p.m. 1913 -- 100 years ago: Baseball enthusiasts in Rock Island are attempting to raise$20,000 to keep the Island City Park open, despite the fact that the city has no franchise inorganized baseball this year. 1938 -- 75 years ago: The organization of a third rural young people's unit will beundertaken tomorrow night at the Milan Presbyterian Church, with Mrs. Mildred K.Wellman, home advisor, and Robert Smith, county farm adviser in charge. 1963 -- 50 years ago: Deere & Co. will begin a "big switch" on its telephone systemMonday morning. The extension numbers of all 1,600 telephones on the firm's EastMoline and Moline exchanges will be changed Monday morning. 1988 -- 25 years ago: East Moline's June Jamboree VI -- Nostalgia Days, will seemlike a '60s revival with the appearance of stars like Bobby Vee, Freddie Cannon, PeterNoone, Turtles, The Grass Roots and Lou Christie. This year's festival has beenexpanded to five days, June 22-26, at the Northeast Park complex.