Australian politicians are pressuring the UFC to do away with its Octagon Girls ahead of UFC 243, which takes place on Oct. 6 in Melbourne. UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker is expected to unify his title with interim champion Israel Adesanya at the 56,000-plus capacity Marvel Stadium.
Politicians in Australia, however, are after the UFC to discontinue its standing practice of utilizing scantily clad Octagon Girls, who hold up round cards on the Octagon apron in between each of the five-minute stanzas.
“The Grand Prix did the right thing in ending the use of grid girls and we encourage other events to make similar moves,” a spokesperson for the Premier of Victoria, Daniel Andrews, told the Herald Sun. Melbourne is the capital of Victoria.
Andrews wasn't the only Australian politician putting a voice to trying to end the practice of Octagon Girls.
“It’s 2019, do we really still need scantily clad women to wander around the middle of a fighting ring between rounds? Grid girls are no longer part of Formula One, walk-on girls are no longer part of professional darts - surely it’s time to move on,” Lord Mayor of Melbourne Sally Capp said.
Australian Politicians blocked ring card girls at recent boxing match
Politicians and advocacy groups successfully lobbied boxing promoters to get them to not use ring card girls at the recent Jeff Horn vs. Michael Zerafa bout at the Battle of Bendigo in Victoria.
Battle of Bendigo promoter Dean Lonergan instead hired men to do the job, telling the Sydney Morning Herald, "I am disappointed, but I am also responsive. I will replace the three women who were employed to signal the start of each round with men.
"Ironically four women will be fighting tonight. It shows [the protesters'] agenda is more about headlines than equal opportunity," he continued.
"To further minimise protests the term ‘ring girl’ will not be used. These roles will now be known as 'fight progress managers'."
Despite sidelining the three women he had hired to be ring card girls at the event, Lonergan said that they would still be paid.
UFC 243: Whittaker vs. Adesanya expected to set records in Melbourne
UFC 243: Whittaker vs. Adesanya could be a record-setting event for the fight promotion. Australia already holds the record for UFC attendance. Some 56,214 fans attended Dockland Stadium (now named Marvel Stadium) in Melbourne for UFC 193, where Holly Holm upset Ronda Rousey on Nov. 14, 2015. That event produced a $6.8 million live gate and an estimated 1.1 million pay-per-view buys.
UFC officials did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.