Female mixed martial arts did its best Neo impression earlier today, when it dodged a Cyborg-sized bullet that could have proved lethal to its future.
Many of you might be wondering why I am so high on this particular matchup.
Let me preface this by saying that Carmouche is a good opponent for Rousey. However, my glee is more in relation to who the former Olympian will not be facing on her UFC debut.
By all accounts, Dana White has been working overtime to put together a blockbuster contest between Ronda Rousey and Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos.
There is no question that is the fight everyone is eager to see. Therefore, it would appear to make sense to book that contest as soon as humanly possible.
But things are not quite that simple.
Although this might initially sound counter-intuitive, we should all be grateful that “Cyborg” has played hard to get in recent months.
Pitting the Brazilian against Rousey at the embryonic stage of the UFC female division’s development is the booking equivalent of playing chicken with a tank.
It is the kind of myopic approach to matchmaking that I have been so vocally opposed to in recent weeks.
Indeed, Dana White’s interview with Ariel Helwani earlier today only served to highlight how mind-bogglingly shortsighted the UFC brass can sometimes be.
In the aforementioned interview, the UFC President made it abundantly clear that he is in the Ronda Rousey business, not the women’s MMA business, stating bluntly:
“I’m not trying to shy away from that and say, ‘Oh no, we’re getting into women’s MMA.’ This is the Ronda Rousey show.”
Let’s leave aside how galling that comment must be for every other female mixed martial artist out there and instead focus on the implications of White’s statement.
If this is indeed the “Ronda Rousey show,” why put her up against “Cyborg” Santos in her UFC debut? One might call it honest matchmaking by the UFC, but that would be missing the point.
There is no doubt that Rousey can win that fight, but is there any doubt that she is equally likely to lose the fight?
Dana White has already conceded that the UFC’s interest in women’s MMA is tied to the fate of their new champion.
With that in mind, one has to wonder why they would play Russian Roulette with their only bankable female star.
We should be equally thankful that Sara McMann had the business savvy to realise that a fight with Ronda Rousey would be pointless at present.
The UFC must build the profile of its female division before it starts matching up the three best fighters in WMMA.
While those who have idealistic notions of a meritocratic matchmaking system might balk at this suggestion, it is critical that Ronda Rousey remains on the throne for the foreseeable future.
Dana White has made it clear that any other scenario puts the future of women’s MMA in serious doubt.