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, April 19, the 109th day of 2014. There are 256 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: Miss McCorkindale has opened millinery rooms over Gimbel's dry goods store, where she offers a choice lot of millinery goods, which she will manufacture to order. 1889 -- 125 years ago: The little South Park Presbyterian chapel celebrated it first Easter decorated with flowers for an afternoon worship service attended by a large congregation. 1914 -- 100 years ago: The Wennerberg Chorus of Augustana College has returned from a 2,000-mile tour in the Eastern states and Illinois. 1939 -- 75 years ago: Col. Charles Lindbergh has stated that he is convinced that Germany's air force is equal to the combined sky fleets of her potential European foes. 1964 -- 50 years ago: Small gas motors may be permitted on boats in the lake to be built in Loud Thunder Forest Preserve. The prospect was discussed yesterday at a meeting of the Rock Island County Forest Preserve Commission. 1989 -- 25 years ago: The annual Dispatch/Rock Island Argus Spelling Bee continues to be a family tradition. Ed Lee, an eighth-grader at John Deere Junior High School, Moline, is the 1989 spelling bee champion from among 49 top spellers in Rock Island, Henry and Mercer counties. He advances to the competition in Washington, D.C. Runnerup was Ed's sister, Susan.