Bec Rawlings, arguably the UFC’s most recognizable Australian fighter, remains popular despite being sidelined due to injury. Rawlings, 26, continues to see her fan base grow, thanks to a strategic marketing campaign that includes controversial Twitter posts and Instagram photos of her in various stages of undress. On Aug. 15, Rawlings tweeted out several interesting photos of herself at a bonfire in Stockton, Calif.
In one of the photos, she was giving the middle finger and wearing pink underwear. In another, she was bent over, showing her assets to the world. Rawlings made no apologies for the posts, and they remain public at the time of this publishing.
Is there anything wrong with this type of marketing? Rawlings, who is 1-1 in the UFC, is a bit of a pioneer when it comes to this form of branding for a UFC fighter. Let’s be honest: While Rawlings is rehabbing, she’s marketing herself more like a model than a UFC fighter. Some have argued that this type of marketing is a bad look for women’s MMA.
They say the sport has come a long way from the time when female fighters were viewed as eye candy. Some would argue that Rawlings’ Twitter photos are setting the sport back to the early days of women’s MMA, when female fighters weren’t taken seriously as athletes.
Is that a legitimate argument? Absolutely not. Rawlings has proven time and time again that she’s a world-class fighter. She holds wins both in Invicta FC and the UFC, two of the highest-level MMA promotions in the world. As long as she backs up her looks and scandalous photos with elite skills inside the cage, there’s nothing wrong with her marketing.
Rawlings seems to be banking on fans to tune in for her good looks, and then stay for her skills. Will it work out? Here’s the thing: Gina Carano, Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate and others utilized that style of marketing in the past, and it worked for each of them. Rawlings appears to be taking a page out of Rousey’s playbook, by marketing her feminine side.
She’s trying to appeal to the UFC’s core fan base of males in the 18-36 age demographic. Make no mistake: This unique style of marketing seems to be working for Rawlings. In her time away from the cage, Rawlings has seen a massive increase in Twitter and Instagram followers.
The hard-hitting Aussie now has over 37,000 followers on Twitter, which ranks her ahead of No. 1 contender Claudia Gadelha. Rawlings has notched more of a social media following than most of the top contenders at 115 pounds.
Of all the UFC’s strawweight superstars, only champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk and a couple others have more followers than her. On Instagram, Rawlings has notched over 44,000 followers, which ranks her ahead of most others in the division.