Brisbane-based atomweight contender Shauna "Little Thunder" Carew outlined on Jan. 11 in an exclusive interview with Long Island MMA Examiner Eric Holden some of the issues currently faced by up-and-coming Australian female fighters, and the list of challenges is quite lengthy.
Carew, a training partner of Aussie MMA standout Bec Hyatt, cited a lack of top-notch opponents and quality promotions willing to open their wallets to fly in legitimate contenders from around the world, as some of the top reasons why she's been unsuccessful in taking her MMA career to the next level.
"That's the problem - I can't get fights here," Carew said of the female MMA scene in Australia. "Only one other girl my weight in the whole country. She has been offered the fight a number of times and won't take it."
The answer isn't as simple as packing on pounds to move up to the next-highest weight class.
Bulking up to the 115-pound ranks isn't a viable option for Carew, as she typically walks around at closer to 100 pounds. "I've gained ten pounds of muscle in the last 12 months, and still only walking around at 105 pounds. Ideally I should fight at 100 pounds, but there's no division for that."
Carew, 32, won Brace Australia's fight of the year and female fighter of the year awards last year, after defeating Gina Cardillo at BFW 17 in Oct., 2012, but she can't get a sniff from top-flight MMA promotions like Bellator and Invicta FC because she is stuck in Australia without an opponent.
Carew hopes to follow in the footsteps of Bec Hyatt and Alex Chambers, Aussie strikers who were signed by the U.S.-based all-female MMA promotion Invicta Fighting Championships.
But without a selection of quality opponents in Australia, Carew isn't sure how to prove she's deserving of a spot in one of the top MMA promotions in the world.
"I wish I knew," Carew said of what she should do next. "Short of promoters here willing to fly me in some opponents, or promoters in the United States willing to fly me there to give me a chance to prove myself...I just don't know what the answer is."
"Unfortunately at 32 - I don't have much time to wait for things to get bigger here," Carew noted. "With Bec and now Alex [Chambers] signed, maybe I'll get a look in one day. And hopefully more girls will get involved. Problem is - I hardly know any girls my weight period - let alone any girls my weight who want to do MMA!"
With Hyatt expected to appear at Invicta FC 5, and Invicta's recent signing of Aussie striker Alex Chambers, it appears that more and more Australian female fighters are receiving the opportunity to showcase their skills to a worldwide audience.
Will Carew be next?