First off, let's get one thing out of the way. I'm a "newbie," or "newb," MMA fan, and if you spend five seconds in the comments section on YouTube, you find out pretty quick that I'm not qualified to lick shit off the shoes of those who've been following martial arts since Chuck Norris first slung a nunchaku.
I'm a poet, and a girly girl. Lip gloss is my life. I've never been much for sports, but one day a picture of Holly Holm cleaning out Ronda Rousey's nostrils with her toenails hit my Google feed and - long story short - a little over a year later here I am with a basic idea of the difference between an arm bar and a guillotine, although I still don't know what the hell a half guard is.
I'll be honest with you. I pick the fighters I think are sexy and I root for them. If they have a good attitude and a good personality (read: are funny), I'll remain a fan.
Cue Tonya Evinger.
I think the first clip of Tonya Evinger I ever saw wasn't of her fighting, but running her mouth, and running it in glorious, unabashed fashion. She was being interviewed. She had a cap on backwards and she kept looking directly into the camera, almost like she was flirting with the lens, and a light from behind the cameraman's shoulder kept hitting her eyes, lighting them up. You got the idea that the camera was flirting back with her.
I watched several more interviews, all the same - Tonya cracks a quick, honest joke like an uppercut, then laughs it off.
I found out that she is a veteran of the sport, successful, proven.
I found out that she hasn't been signed with the UFC, and several MMA fans, reporters, insiders (read: not "newbies") have been wondering why.
This wondering has been renewed by Tonya's most recent redemption - a battle touted as the "leave no doubt" match, wherein Tonya proved that she really would have worked her way out of Yana Kunitskaya's arm bar the first fight if the ref had left her to wrestle in peace.
She won the fight and retained her belt in the second round (of five) by RNC (that's rear naked choke - using acronyms makes me feel fancy, also, knowing what a rear naked choke is).
Tonya Evinger grinds. She works hard, and not just inside the cage - I learned in an interview that when she's not in camp, training for a fight, she works construction.
I was surprised, and the interviewer was surprised as well. I guess I'm not the only one who was riding the fairy tale rainbow in my mind where all fighters at the elite level (Invicta, UFC, the point at which fighters call fighting their "career," which Tonya does) get a pot of gold and enough sponsership to allow them to train full time.
So, Tonya Evinger, quite literally, is a working class fighter. By that I mean that she works hard and has class, of course, but I'm also referring to the cultural designation we associate with certain jobs.
This leads me to the theory I have about why Tonya hasn't been signed with the UFC.
If you look through the comments section of any of the YouTube videos featuring Tonya Evinger, you're going to find more than one sucktard (sucker + bastard) who uses the phrase "trailer trash."
At Tonya's most recent weigh in, somebody called out something about a trailer and I honestly can't tell you if it was trash talk from the opponent's fans or a member of Tonya's own team indicating that they've embraced what the lonely, chronic masturbaters of the internet have tried to use as a slur against her.
In any case, all of the above just confirms that Tonya Evinger is my people.
See that trailer behind me in the picture above? I was brought home to that trailer from the hospital when I was born. My mama was married in a trailer.
Regardless of whether or not Tonya Evinger has any actual trailer in her background, one of the reasons I'm a fan is that I get an outsider vibe off of her. I know that vibe. I know that life. I also know people can judge you for it, think you are less than them.
Over the past while that I've been an MMA fan, I've watched glossy, polished fighters who may or may not have highlight streaks in their hair be called up and promoted by the UFC.
In direct contrast, Tonya does her own hair before her fights, tying it back in a sort of basket pattern with tiny rubberbands, allowing a crazy ass cloud of fury to happen during her performances as her hair loosens from the ties, like some sort of warrior halo by the end.
I'm not saying that all or even any of the UFC fighters are preppy, bleach-tipped bourgeois - far from it, but I have noticed a trend by the UFC toward a certain persona that would be less likely to have "filthy" as their hashtag.
Maybe this is part of the UFC's concern (obsession?) with being observed as a high class, professional, legitimate sports organization, but they should know that it comes off to at least one fan as stinking of snobbery.
Besides, in one fell swoop, Tonya defended her right to be #filthy AND contributed to the legtimacy of a sport ruled by, well, rules and regulations, by taking her fight for foot placement to the commission.
The UFC shouldn't be afraid to be filthy if filthy is written into their rulebooks.
I've read more than once that Tonya Evinger has a chip on her shoulder, but in the vernacular of my people, it seems it ain't so much the chip on her shoulder as it is the blockheads on the shoulders of them UFC people that's the problem.
With the glass ceiling obstensibly broken by other star female athletes in the sport, it seems that Tonya Evinger may be up against the ass ceiling - decision makers who are judging her on something other than her talent and her record.