How the UFC Can Grow and Sell Women's MMA

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How the UFC Can Grow and Sell Women's MMA
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Remember that TMZ video of UFC President Dana White saying how women would never be seen inside the Octagon?  Boy, have times changed.

With the rise of Strikeforce Women's Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey, White has changed his tune on female mixed martial artists eventually joining the UFC.  Not only would this take women's MMA to the next level, but it will also be a new financial frontier for the promotion.

For women to be successful inside the Octagon, the UFC will have to do a lot of work building up new female stars and prospects in order to create a viable and competitive division.

Women have shown they can bring in a wide audience this year as the all-female promotion Invicta FC has put on a myriad of strong shows and of course Rousey, who's two headlining bouts for Strikeforce drew in the year's top ratings on Showtime.

To take things to the next level, the UFC will have to keep building up stars such as Rousey, but also look to bring more attention to lesser known, yet equally skilled female fighters.  

While the likes of Miesha Tate and Sarah Kaufman have only garnered recent attention due to their bouts with the Strikeforce champ, both women are top-level warriors and could also turn into higher profile MMA celebrities under a UFC banner.

Critics are right to question Bellator's recent decision to put champ Zoila Gurgel on the untelevised undercard at Bellator 78, as the promotion missed a golden opportunity to bring more eyeballs to women's MMA.  

In order for female fighters to gain the same amount of star power as their male counterparts, they first need their promotions to simply do their jobs: sell the fights.

Can a women's division be succesful in the UFC?

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The UFC knows better than to make the same gaffe as Bellator, but the promotion must realize that it needs to put in serious work to grow a potential women's division.

One obvious route is to have a female edition of The Ultimate Fighter.  Not only would this immediately add a plethora of talent to the division, but it would also revive the franchise.  Regardless of who coaches, those women's careers will also benefit from the increased exposure.

The UFC has recently toyed with the idea of putting on smaller, regional shows in certain countries to grow the sport in a more market-specific manner.  In some ways, Invicta FC fills that role here, filling in the gap for the lack of high-profile female events.  The world's largest MMA promotion could also go this route and put on a smaller, female-focused show to grow the division on a more grassroots level.

Regardless of the promotion's plan of attack, I have faith that a women's division would flourish under the UFC banner.

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