The addition of a female division and the star power new bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey commands shows the continually progressive—and successful—direction of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
President Dana White has made a series of bold moves that have paid huge dividends to the sport of mixed martial arts, and this certainly qualifies as such.
His charisma and entrepreneurship has carried the UFC to incredible heights. The fact that he has such faith in Rousey to bear the torch of the new bantamweight women's division is one of many indicators that the 25-year-old fighter is headed for greatness (h/t FiveOuncesOfPain.com):
I’m not trying to shy away…this is the Ronda Rousey show. I don’t know how long this is gonna last. This could last a year, this could be forever. The 135-pound division could fill up with tons of talent and we could have tons of great fights. I can’t honestly sit here and predict what’s gonna happen. But don’t kid yourself. The only reason this is happening is because of Ronda Rousey.
And there was more from White, who is completely embracing the hype that Rousey is generating (h/t Dann Stupp, USA TODAY):
No other (female) fighters have what Rousey has. She's nasty. She's mean. She'd actually fight a dude if that's what it took to get in the UFC. She'd do it. ... I've seen a lot of tough girls, but I haven't seen a girl with the whole package until I met her.
Already very accomplished in her young career, Rousey is the 135-pound Strikeforce champion and a bronze medalist in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. MMARising.com lists Rousey as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, making her acquisition into the UFC—perpetually exploding in popularity as it is—all the more likely to capitalize on her unique talents.
In her previous eight MMA fights, Rousey is unbeaten and untied, winning every bout with a first-round, armbar submission, according to Stupp. Sherdog.com indicates that seven of those eight—three amateur and six professional fights—ended within the first minute.
The big stage is an environment that the gregarious, articulate Rousey seems to relish. It takes a special kind of person to carry an entire sport for a gender, and White sees that in Rousey.
In fact, Rousey will headline February's UFC 157 as the main event fight. Her inaugural defense of the bantamweight championship belt will be against Liz Carmouche, a gritty former U.S. Marine who will provide a formidable challenge.
The Honda Center in Anaheim has the potential to reveal MMA and the UFC to a completely new audience and totally change the perception of fighting sports in general. Rousey has already asserted her dominance by submitting all of her opponents to date, and it's easy to see how she could take the UFC by storm.
White has made all the right moves so far as president, and this is a win-win situation regardless of the outcome. If talent doesn't eventually arrive in the women's division and it ultimately dissolves, then there is pretty much no harm done.
The UFC will still continue to draw its now many loyal followers and be viewed as a progressive body that took the initiative to include women in MMA on a massive stage.
If it does work out, White looks like the genius he typically has as UFC president, and a whole flood of female fighters sign up for the chance to take on Rousey or whoever the title holder may be.
Having a woman like Rousey thriving in a position of such power and toughness will also shift the paradigm of gender stereotypes as well.