UFC 157: Is 'the Ronda Show' Just a Freakshow?

Matthew RyderFeatured ColumnistDecember 24, 2012

August 18, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA;   Ronda Rousey (black shirt) celebrates after she defeated Sarah Kaufman (not pitcured) during their Strikeforce MMA women's bantamweight title bout at the Valley View Casino Center. Rousey won in 54 seconds of the first round. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The "freakshow fight" in MMA is a hot-button issue for a lot of fans. Book the wrong guys for the wrong reasons (read: hilarious/misshapen/abnormally large guys for money), and fans might very well revolt.

Or, they might very well plunk down their hard earned cash and pay you to watch.

Either way is good.

Which raises the question: is booking a freakshow exactly what the UFC is doing by bringing Ronda Rousey in to headline a pay-per-view just as soon as they legally can?

Maybe not exactly, but it's pretty close.

Rousey has become a megastar in the past year, and while many who have followed her exploits from an amateur with limitless potential to whatever she is now have grown tired of her constant headlines, she's just beginning to be recognized by the mainstream.

That recognition is what Dana White is hoping to cash in on, and it's what will undoubtedly make Rousey the richest female in MMA history once her UFC 157 fight is over—win or lose.

That's not the problem, though—at least not for everyone.

The problem is that this whole "women in the UFC" thing isn't really a "women in the UFC" thing, at all. It's a "Ronda in the UFC" thing, and that's a serious cause for concern. In fact, if no one else starts getting some ink from the press in this ladies' 135-pound class that apparently exists now, it's an out-and-out freakshow, by another name.

White has made no bones about the fact that Rousey is buoying the whole division on her own. Actually, he's straight up calling it her division and her show. When probed further on the UFC women's bantamweight title picture, he answers with an almost smug incredulousness that people would even question this move.

Well, they are.

They are, because he can't actually name fighters in this "division" other than Rousey.

They are, because less than a year ago he was openly and vehemently opposed to women in the UFC.

They are, because Rousey was handed a belt that she never earned with a fight in the UFC.

To put it another way: They are, because there are reasons to question the situation—plenty of them.

Make no mistake that Rousey is the type of star that White and the UFC loves. Loves and badly needs after a 2012 that would sooner be forgotten by most involved in promoting the sport at the highest level.

But her UFC existence is dangerously close to being a freakshow right now, and if the promotion doesn't start pushing other female fighters and building the division with the same respect it gives the men, this whole thing is going to go off the rails quickly.

Stunning blonde who snaps people's arms and talks enough trash to make the main page of TMZ? Sounds good to me.

But let's not act like it's that far from Fedor vs. Hong Man Choi on a New Year's Eve in Japan. Because without a division around her, it's really not.