There is not one MMA fan that frequents Bleacher Report that does not know Ronda Rousey has become the first female mixed martial artist to sign with the UFC. If I just broke the news to you, then you should also know Brock Lesnar is back in the WWE, Anderson Silva is on a bit of a winning streak and Chael Sonnen will soon be fighting Jon Jones.
Women's MMA has surged in 2012 with the help of Rousey, but also because of the success of the first three Invicta FC events, and other displays of good WMMA fights from promotions such as Bellator. Unfortunately, for WMMA, most fans only know about Rousey.
Think about this, there has been great debate this year with regard to the sustainability of the UFC flyweight division. Some fans believe the talent pool isn't deep enough with the 125-pounders to have a division that will put on quality fights on a consistent basis.
As it stands now there are about 15 flyweights on the UFC roster and most fans recognize the names of Demetrious Johnson (title holder), Joseph Benavidez, John Dodson and Ian McCall. It's not the casual fan that will be able to recite stats from these fighters, but rather fans who are continuously reading about the sport.
What about the women's bantamweight division? The only two fighters signed to this division are Rousey and Miesha Tate. Of course, this is just in the beginning stages of development with more fighters expected to be announced soon, but how much of the success of the division rests on the shoulders of Rousey?
One year ago today you did not know who Ronda Rousey was, and if you did, there was no way you knew she'd be the biggest MMA story of 2012. No matter where you fall with your support of WMMA, it must be agreed upon that Rousey was the most consistently talked about figure in MMA from March through the rest of the year.
So what if she loses in her UFC debut? Will she lose all the momentum she has gained for herself? We see it happen all the time. Somebody rides a wave of success and finally reaches the big time—only to fail and go back into obscurity.
Granted, should Rousey lose in her debut (opponent still to be determined), the MMA community won't forget her, but much of her lore will certainly fade away.
There doesn't appear to be a "Plan B" for the women's division in the UFC if Rousey doesn't succeed. Dana White and many in the media have talked up how dominant she is to the point where it has become nauseating for some people. What happens when fans get sick of a fighter? They want to see him/her lose.
So where are fans on this? Do they want to see Rousey lose and watch the UFC conduct damage control on their newest money grab? Is there a chance that whoever beats Rousey could become as popular and marketable as Ronda? And how much of a step back will WMMA take if the "Rousey Experiment" does not succeed?
I want to see WMMA succeed, and I think it'd be a lot more interesting and beneficial for the sport to see Rousey get knocked out or submitted in her first UFC fight. The spotlight needs to be shed on as many fighters within the newly formed women's bantamweight division as possible. Otherwise, it's just going to be Ronda Rousey and "everyone else."
The women need more than one face to lead their division to the mainstream.
Joe Chacon is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report and a staff writer for Operation Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JoeChacon.
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