Last week Dana White and the UFC made it official by signing Ronda Rousey to a UFC contract. Many fans are already calling for a superfight with Cyborg Santos and Ronda Rousey as the first women's UFC fight.
However, with Cyborg being unable to make 135 pounds, the fight seems to be nothing more than a dream for MMA fans. So now the question remains: What does Zuffa do and what other women can they bring in that will get the fans excited about the division?
“You have to give Gina (Carano) credit when she passed on the WEC to go into Strikeforce,” Invicta FC's Julie Kedzie stated. “She did it to build a women’s division rather than do a series of one off fights.”
In the fall of 2009, the biggest worry was that once Gina Carano was gone, the women’s division would fall apart since she and Cyborg were the main draws. There was no real young star waiting in the wings and no group of young, rising talent that was being cultivated.
However, Scott Coker and Strikeforce officials deserve some credit in that they stuck with the women’s division. They developed the bantamweight division which featured Miesha Tate, Sarah Kaufman, and Marloes Coenen.
And they developed U.S. Olympic judo bronze medalist Ronda Rousey, who has been everything the UFC and Women’s MMA could have hoped for. Now comes the tricky part for the UFC in that they need to figure out how to build this division and how to keep it sustained for the long haul.
Fans have seen what happens when the UFC is fully behind a division that they truly believe in. Witness the flyweight division in which they signed Jussier Formiga, Ian McCall, Ulysses Gomez and John Moraga. Add to the fact that The Ultimate Fighter 14 was mostly about adding fighters like John Dodson and Louis Gaudinot, and you realized that Zuffa was serious about the flyweights.
Which fighter will fight Ronda Rousey first?
One of the things that Dana and company need to do is find female fighters who are ready to compete and have passionate fanbases to tap into. Former bantamweight champion Miesha Tate is one fighter who has churned out great fights and maintained a fanatical Twitter following.
Another young fighter to keep an eye on is 2004 U.S. Olympic wrestling silver medalist, Sara McMann. The powerful Lock Haven graduate is 6-0 with wins coming over Shayna Baszler and Hitomi Akano. Tonya Evinger seems to be the next challenger.
There are also a slew of talented fighters, such as former bantamweight champion Sarah Kaufman, Alexis Davis, Cat Zigano and Amanda Nunes, who appear primed and ready. But what Zuffa needs is for leagues such as Invicta FC, JEWELS and the Pink Fight League to thrive in order to get more women into MMA.
Zuffa has made the decision to get into women’s MMA by bringing Ronda Rousey into the fold. Now the question is whether they are serious about it or just riding the momentum until it dies.
You can listen to Chris Connor every Friday night from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. ET as the executive producer and host of LAST CALL radio show on Cyberstationusa.com.