Sport: Extreme Fighting: It's Ladies' Fight

Ultimate fighting is crude, vicious and bloody--no wonder it's outdrawing boxing. Now a group of women athletes are looking for a good brawl and a better payday

Robert Gallagher for TIME

Sofie Bagherdai, top, punches Stephanie Palmer, bottom, during a Fatal Femmes Fighting match at the Crystal Casino in Compton, Los Angeles, CA. on July 14, 2007. Palmer was taken out of the ring on a stretcher.

You don't kick a girl when she's down, right? Not if you can pound her face instead. At the Fatal Femmes Fighting Championship, an all-female mixed-martial arts (MMA) event, almost anything goes in the cage. Sofie Bagherdai, otherwise a sweet, petite teenager from Southern California, has her opponent, Stephanie Palmer, pinned to the floor. Now she's ready to work--whack, a shot to the noggin. Bam! Pow! Boom! Half a dozen more. Palmer cowers in the fetal position, and the ref stops the fight. The medics cart Palmer out on a stretcher. (She escapes with a fractured foot, suffered earlier in the...

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