The UFC has made waves moving from relative obscurity as a niche sport into pop culture relevance, and now it has made another step forward with one of its fighters making it to Playboy.
Ukrainian flyweight Maryna Moroz is now the first UFC fighter to be featured and pose nude as a Playboy centerfold, advancing the profile for women’s mixed martial arts globally and culturally. Moroz is 11-3 and currently on a three-fight win streak, with her last fight being a win over Mariya Agapova with a second-round submission by arm triangle choke.
“I’m so happy,” Moroz told TMZ. “It’s a very good opportunity for me, and I’m just ready for work. Before, I was a very closed person. Now, I think America changed me. Now I’m open, and I feel more energy. When I show maybe nude pictures, people write me very good messages, and I take energy.
“I think to be sexy and make pictures, it’s helped for me to relax, it helped for me to be calm. Working with Playboy is super big for me. I change everything in my life and now I am a different person. Everything changed.”
— Maryna Moroz (@MarynaMoroz1) September 27, 2022
Longtime UFC ring card girls Arianny Celeste and Brittney Palmer were both featured in the magazine. However, they were one-off appearances and weren’t fighters in the promotion. The move comes a long way from when UFC President Dana White didn’t want women in the UFC.
On Jan. 11, 2011, White was leaving a restaurant when the paparazzi approached him and asked, “When are we gonna see women in the UFC?”
White’s response was simple: “never.” It was a mic drop moment that would haunt White until he realized that the women’s game was just as profitable as the men’s ranks. White told former UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey why he felt that and what changed his mind.
“Everything in life is about timing,” White said on an episode of “Rowdy’s Places.” “When I was saying ‘we’ll never have women in the UFC,’ I was having a hard enough time getting men fighting in a cage accepted, let alone women. You approached me, and we had like a 45-minute conversation, and halfway through it I started going, ‘Oh my God, I think I’m gonna do this. And she’s definitely the one to do this with.'”
Rousey’s gone to have a Hall of Fame career and returned from MMA after a losing skid and into a successful career with the WWE. Trailblazing women athletes like former boxing champion Holly Holm became UFC champions, and Amanda Nunes has gone on to become one of the most dominant fighters in UFC history.
Now Moroz is stepping from the athletic branch of the UFC that almost never was into the ultra-feminine realm of Playboy.
“It’s super cool. I am still surprised for me,” Moroz continued.
Being featured in Playboy is a big deal and a life-changing opportunity for any entertainer. For Moroz, the lane is larger than her career, adding to the realm of possibilities for women’s MMA.
Read More TSL Stories: