Gina Carano, Cris Cyborg, Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate, blah, blah, blah. Before those ladies ever appeared on the scene, there were girls out there pioneering a slice of the MMA world that was so small it was almost trivial. But fuck if it was trivial, 'cause to watch a female MMA bout that pitted two skilled competitors against each other somehow, someway made for ultra-exciting stuff. Back in the day - the "day" being around 2002 - there were ass-kickers who went by such names as Roxanne Modafferi, Amanda Buckner, Tara LaRosa... and of course, there was Laura D'Auguste.
Repping Team Tiger Schulmann, D'Auguste was a single mom and full-time cardiac nurse who simply could not be beat when it came to throwing down in the ring. From Renzo Gracie purple belt Shannon Logan to Del Greer to Buckner and Modafferi, all the way on up to a SmackGirl tournament in Japan and Megumi Yabushita, D'Auguste was hailed as the best in an era when the best didn't get to fight on a Showtime broadcast.
I was too much of a gentleman to ever ask D'Auguste her age, but I know age played a factor in her retirement, as did her marrying her jiu-jitsu instructor and settling into the role of wife. At the time, BodogFIGHT was angling to have LaRosa face D'Auguste for the organization's championship belt. But an injury in training put her on crutches, and after that, it was rare to see D'Auguste around. She retired on top, though. And I'm pretty sure she retired happy.