Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Piece of MMA History: Laura D'Auguste

If the sport was in its infancy in 2002, then the concept of women competing in MMA was barely clearing the birth canal. But Laura D'Auguste was ahead of her time, and in events like New Jersey's Ring of Combat and Reality Fighting and Japan's Smackgirl, she was racking up wins against top lady warriors such as Amanda Buckner, Roxanne Modefferi and Megumi Yabushita, putting the world on notice that a bout featuring two females waging war was every bit as exciting as seeing a clash between two men. What made D'Auguste special? The truth is, D'Auguste could really grapple - so much so that she'd compete in men's divisions at NAGA tournaments. Her skills on the mat (honed to a razor's edge at Tiger Schulmann fight team sessions) translated into an undefeated MMA record and a berth at the prestigious 2007 Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships, and by July of that year she was widely seen as the best 135-pound female fighter on the planet. Sadly, it's been a two years since D'Auguste last saw action. A split from Team Tiger Schulmann prompted her to join Romulo Bittencourt's Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academy in Newark, while an injury had her bow out of a potential BodogFIGHT match-up against Tara LaRosa. Add to that a new marriage, and the full-time cardiovascular nurse no longer seemed to hold MMA competition as a priority. Which is a shame, because thanks to her, the East Coast was at one time the center of the female mixed martial arts universe.

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