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Reebok women’s MMA tanktops would be illegal under proposed new apparel rule

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

LAS VEGAS — Valerie Letourneau is probably somewhere smiling.

The Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) will vote on proposed new rules to standardize women's mixed martial arts in-fight apparel Tuesday at its annual conference. The MMA rules and regulations committee and medical committees unanimously voted to recommend clearer regulations for women's fight gear, which had previously allowed things like grappling pants, and presented the potential changes Monday.

Under the proposed new standards, women's fighters will be able to wear either a sports bra or a form-fitting rash guard (short sleeve above the elbow or sleeveless). T-shirts, half shirts and singlets will no longer be allowed. Neither will Reebok's loose-fitting tanktops, which are given to women who don't want to wear sports bras in the cage.

Letourneau had her loose-fitting tank pulled down by a kick in a fight with Joanne Calderwood in June. Multiple times in that fight, Letourneau had to cover up because she was afraid of a wardrobe malfunction. She posted about it afterward on Instagram.

I want to clarify something, my daughter told me what the commentators were saying during the fight, and I felt insulted. I have been practicing martial arts for 17 years, so I have no problem taking hits to the chest. It is the rule, and it isn't worse than a low kick! My only problem during the fight is that my bra litterally slipped under my breasts. This is why I stared, embarrassed, at the referee, and I have no idea what Jojo told me, but I had to keep fighting. It seems that I was being mocked because I seemed to be complaining of blows to the breast. I think that I have nothing to prove regarding the numbers of hits I can take without complaining. Guys, would you be able to keep fighting without being distracted if one of your nuts was slipping out of your shorts? Anyway, it does not excuse my defeat, but I wanted to clarify this part of the fight!

A photo posted by Valerie Letourneau (@valerietroubleletourneau) on

Not only would a rash guard be more practical for women in that regard, longtime official John McCarthy, speaking on behalf of the committee, also noted that loose-fitting shirts are also safety hazards: fingers and toes can get stuck in them.

For shorts, women would be able to wear the same apparel as men under the proposed rules. Grappling pants, like those worn in the past by Marloes Coenen, and anything else that goes below the knee would be disallowed.

Like all proposed rules at the ABC Conference, even if these are passed by the body it is up to each individual state to adopt them.

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