Genah Fabian is ready to pave the way.
The Kiwi mixed martial artist has signed on to compete in the inaugural women's lightweight division of the Professional Fighter's League (PFL), a competition in which the winner collects a US$1 million prize.
For Fabian, the opportunity to compete in the inaugural tournament provided more than just a paycheck.
"It's groundbreaking, you know?" she told the Herald. "Women's MMA in general is still some years behind the men so, aside from obviously going all the way and wanting to win it, the bigger picture is the fact that this tournament and being able to compete in it is going to be able to help grow women's MMA. It'll take some years, but one day we'll catch up to the men in that regard so I'm really excited about that and the fact that on a world stage we get the chance to do that."
The 2019 season will be the first year the PFL has included a women's division – with six men's divisions contested in 2018.
"That whole idea of women not doing these kinds of sports and being in those types of environments, that's vastly changing."
The PFL was established in 2012 under the moniker of the World Series of Fighting. It was renamed in 2017 with the 2018 edition being the first under its new title. Unlike most MMA fight nights, the PFL features a regular season where fighters get points for their wins. The top fighters at the end of the season move into the knockout stages.
For Fabian, the contract with PFL was the next step in her MMA journey after winning the World Muay Thai Council Middleweight title early in 2018.
A former top level sprinter and triple jumper, Fabian turned her attention to the fight game in 2012 after dabbling in Muay Thai on a trip to Thailand. She trained there before returning to New Zealand where she joined the team at City Kickboxing.
With the tutelage of the gym's trainers, including her cousin Eugene Bareman, and the opportunity to train alongside the likes of Israel Adesanya, Kai Kara France and Dan Hooker, Fabian's star began to rise.
Struggling to get into the ring in Muay Thai due to opponents withdrawing and other elements out of her control in 2015 and 2016, Fabian took her first two MMA bouts – winning both.
Going 2-0 to start her MMA career, and holding a 9-2 Muay Thai record, the Kiwi knew to make it in the sport she needed to get Stateside.
"(City Kickboxing) knew for me to make the most of my opportunities I had to be in the hub and in front of the right people and be accessible in America. Being on the other side of the world at the time wasn't giving me those opportunities," she said.
Linking up with California's Combat Sport Academy, where the likes of UFC fighters Jessica-Rose Clark and Matt Schnell hone their craft, Fabian was told to solely focus on Muay Thai.
"The head coach Kirian Fitzgibbons… he mapped it out. He said 'don't see this as a step back but we're going to fight Muay Thai a few more times and get your name established before we go back into MMA.'"
It worked a treat as Fabian went on to claim a world title – a goal she had set for herself in 2017 – and earn a deal with the PFL.
Contracted until the end of 2019, Fabian's deal could renew for the 2020 season, while the ultimate goal for her was to make it into the UFC.
However if she were to make a run at UFC she would have to fight in the featherweight division, with the promotion not offering a women's lightweight division.
Fabian has fought a featherweight before, but admitted she had been through some bad weight cuts and lightweight is a much more comfortable weight for her.
"I've been through some really tough weight cuts and it's really affected my health and my body over the years, especially being a woman."
However if she were to make a run at UFC she would have to fight in the featherweight division, with the promotion not offering a women's lightweight division," she said.
"(The PFL) is a great opportunity for me to be comfortable and to perform at a healthy weight for me."