MMA star Pearl Gonzalez eyes ESPN the Magazine 'Body Issue' opportunity
Video by James Lynch

Former UFC strawweight star Pearl Gonzalez (8-3) hopes to celebrate the female athletic build and push women's MMA even further into the mainstream with an appearance in ESPN the Magazine's annual "Body Issue." The hard-hitting Chicago talent has taken to Twitter to campaign for a spot in next year's periodical. 

Will the magazine's editors give Gonzalez and the fans what they want? Will her pleas on social media actually work? Time will tell the answer to that question. It certainly can't hurt to try.

As fight fans might remember, it was Liz Carmouche -- Gonzalez's teammate at San Diego Combat Academy -- picking up a coveted UFC opportunity against "Rowdy" Ronda Rousey, partly due to a vigorous Twitter campaign. "The Chicago Princess" is looking to use social media in the same way, only to get noticed by ESPN rather than the UFC. Is this a smart idea?

First of all, it does help her cause that ESPN the Magazine featured female UFC fighters in the past, showcasing the likes of Miesha Tate and Michelle "Karate Hottie" Waterson. In 2012, Rousey propelled women's MMA to new heights with an appearance in the "Body Issue."

Since then, the magazine has showcased more than a handful of MMA superstars. Gonzalez is doing the right thing by elevating her profile and getting fans to notice her.

Here's the thing: Athletes from the mixed martial arts community are perfect for featured spots in ESPN the Magazine, as the sport is still growing and looking to reach new eyeballs. ESPN the Magazine's "Body Issue" is viewed by thousands of casual sports fans, so the hope is that at least some of them will buy a UFC pay-per-view after viewing the fine athletes of the sport.