But while dreams of professional fighting are exciting in the short-term, young fighters like Madeline will one day grow up and face a complex set of challenges. The risks of injury are a high price to pay for a sport offering little potential for glory or profit.

Right now there is nothing to suggest Madeline will not turn pro. But if she doesn't, she'll never make a dime in the sport. Amateur-level competitors earn nothing but battle scars and pride. Mike Green may be a legend in the gym, but outside that world, he is a bar manager.

Even for professional fighters, the chance for a payout is small. And for girls, the outlook is particularly bleak.

For more images, visit MMA for Kids: A Family Story.
Kholood Eid
For more images, visit MMA for Kids: A Family Story.
For more images, visit MMA for Kids: A Family Story.
Kholood Eid
For more images, visit MMA for Kids: A Family Story.

The sport's top promoter, UFC, still bans female fights, and in other professional leagues such as Strikeforce and Bellator, the best female fighters might make a few thousand dollars a match — if they're lucky.

Sam Caplan, who runs the MMA fighter blog fiveouncesofpain.com, says there are currently about five professional female fighters who make a decent salary, with another ten who are just able to scrape by. "MMA is still a fringe sport, and female MMA is the fringe of the fringe," he says. "Unless something changes, the prospects of women making money are very, very slim."


Even at birth, Madeline was a fighter, overcoming a cardiac defect called ASD/VSD, which is marked by a hole in the heart. After she was delivered via C-section, recalls her mother, Christina Moran, "she was breathing so hard you could count her ribs. She was so little and skinny."

Nurses said Madeline would almost certainly need open-heart surgery. But when Madeline reached six months, the nurses said they'd never seen a hole that large close so quickly.

One evening in February, Madeline stretches out in the puffy chair in her bedroom. She bears a striking resemblance to her Irish father, with large, deeply set blue-gray eyes and high-arching eyebrows. A collection of freckles is splashed across her face.

She may be a tomboy, but she's still adorable, quick to flash a wide, dimply grin. Her room is a wall-to-wall mess of old trophies, Disney posters, DVDs and sports paraphernalia. A Batman cape hangs in the corner, near some of her many hats. (She rarely leaves home without one.)

"It's kinda fun being one of the shortest people in my class," Madeline says in a faint Southern drawl, underscoring her carefree attitude toward life. She loves the Green Bay Packers, Katy Perry and St. Louis Blues player Cam Janssen — mostly for the way he fights. She likes to skip and jump on her trampoline. Her favorite phrases include "that's beast!" and "epic fail!" ("Eww, those nachos are soggy — that's an epic fail," she explains to a friend one day at her dad's gym.)

She also likes to roughhouse, to the chagrin of some of her friends. When she playfully lunges at a friend named Austin for the second time in one day, the boy puts up his hands and pleads for mercy. "I'm still sore from your last triangle!" he contends.

Madeline is energetic but also very shy; most of her teachers and classmates have no clue about her fighting talents, which, up to now, haven't been promoted. On top of her four-day-a-week training regimen, she's maintained a normal schoolgirl's life during the day, despite the black eyes and scrapes she sometimes carries with her. Her last report card showed all A's and B's. If she somehow isn't able to turn pro, she wants to enter a career where she can work with animals.

She calls her dad her hero. "He taught me to be prepared for anything," she says.

Asked about her mother, she pauses. "I don't really want to see her again."

Recently, though, Moran has been fighting for her daughter's forgiveness. Ever since rehab, Moran has struggled to absolve herself for youthful mistakes. She explains how difficult it is to face each morning without her daughter in her life. "It breaks my heart every day," she says between sobs. She comes across as sincere.

Last fall, Moran began texting her daughter. Sometimes Madeline texts back.

Moran says she's proud of Madeline's MMA accomplishments but worries about a fiercer set of opponents: junior high girls.

"Girls are so terribly mean," says Moran. "Mike's a great dad, but he doesn't know how girls are." Now is the time — just before puberty — when daughters need their mothers most, she says.

"At Christmas, I asked her what she wanted, and she said skinny jeans," she recalls.

Moran suggested they go shopping. But Madeline declined.

"That killed me," says Moran.

Shortly after Christmas, she dropped the skinny jeans off at the doorstep.


The Carondelet neighborhood has undergone slight changes over the last two decades. A few dive bars have been displaced by coffee shops and art spaces, and new street lamps dot South Broadway. But residents say the area has further to go. Bums still drink, drugs are a problem, and local hookers — "nasty-ass whores," opines a local bartender — still look to score.

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
20 comments
DH
DH

This is just sick, that's great teach your daughter to be a thug!

a mama
a mama

Wish the best for Maddy in whatever she does. Wish the best for her Mom also. Hope she continues to try to repair her relationship with her daughter. People do change and everyone deserves a second chance. Godspeed, Tina and Maddy....may very well be a long journey- definitely worth enduring.

Maggi
Maggi

I know Maddy IRL (: Might be going to her cage fight! Wish me luck getting tickets.. getting expensive really fast.

X-couchpotato
X-couchpotato

Being a friend of Mikes' going as far back as I can remember. He has always been a fierce competitor no matter what it was. I see the same in Maddy. Shes a very bright and beautiful young lady, but just like her Daddy dont piss her off! I am proud of his and her accomplishments in and out of the ring. Im even prouder to call them both my friends and extended family. To Loam and Fabs bring your sons to a fight and challenge "The Madness" and we'll see who gets the living daylights kicked out of them or winds up with brain damage. No one would, this isn't boxing. Research the sport a little better before you make accusations of such things. Then again I wouldn't expect anything less from the uneducated. This is Maddys' time to shine please dont tarnish this moment for her with your rash comments. Watching her train would make the laziest of men get off the couch and want to train! Thank you Maddy! We love you!

Fabs
Fabs

As a father I have to wonder how Mike will feel when he watches an opponent kick the living daylights out of his daughter. Then again, he may feel nothing.

Cheryl from thatgirlisfunny
Cheryl from thatgirlisfunny

Madeline is representing the new breed of young people growing up in this sport. I think this is very exciting. Martial Arts are great for everyone who has the temperament and willingness to train consistently. It's amazing to me that Maddy has learned so much, so quickly and is able to defeat opponents in a variety of fighting styles. Well done, Daddy Green for recognizing talent in his own daughter and nurturing her passion. Mini-Warrior Princess!

Loam
Loam

The only thing that's going to happen to her is brain damage and she'll have her dad to thank for it.

Wqedw
Wqedw

she isnt being a thug she is living what she wants and not going along with regular retards like you

Fabs
Fabs

Interesting you assume I have a son. Son or daughter, I have no interest in bringing my progeny to a fight. Thank you, though, for the invitation, as well as for your assumption that people who are not interested in fighting are uneducated. We just find our inspiration in other, safer things.

Edw
Edw

your dumb

Jason Trent
Jason Trent

Thats a fairly narrow minded generalisation to make. Sure people get injured in sports like this but the numbers are tiny.Youre just as likely to get injured as a pedestrian as you are in a fighting ring.

Kvanausdoll
Kvanausdoll

She will have her amazing father to thank for her self confidence, discipline, and guidance that will make her an amazing woman. Wish every little girl was lucky enough to have such a loving devoted father.

X-couchpotato
X-couchpotato

Lets just say you and your father were Tennis Players and I made a comment like, "I wonder how your Dad would feel if you fell and your Tennis racket were to get lodged in your ass?" Then again you would probably feel nothing. With me knowing nothing about Tennis it sounds pretty stupid maybe even ridiculous. With you knowing this is virtually impossible unless I learned how to play Tennis on South Broadway. Cause with a comment such as yours I'd graciously shove the Tennis racket up your bum! Its a good thing you and your progeny aren't interested in fighting because the world needs more Tennis Players.

rob
rob

there are other ways to give your daughter self confidence, discipline, and guidance that will make her an amazing woman without brain damage and dementia and roid rage

1. karate 2. girl scouts3. military(when shes 18)

by the way what boy would want to fight her i mean every boy in history is taught to never to hit a girl

Disgusted
Disgusted

She'll also have him to thank for broken bones or teeth - or even brain damage. There's a reason there are laws against children participating in this kind of fighting in most states.

Asdfghjkhgfdsr4tfghyut
Asdfghjkhgfdsr4tfghyut

oh yea military is way safer then fighting in a ring with a ref retard get it straight dumbass

 
Loading...