UFC 157 will mark a huge occasion for women's MMA and female sports in general, as the fight between superstar Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche will not only be the first fight between women on a UFC pay-per-view, but the first to headline one as well.
Even Dana White recognizes that making Rousey and Carmouche is a risk, but apparently sees enough potential in Rousey's star power to take a chance.
From Steven Marrocco of MMAJunkie.com (via Cincinnati.com):
"I don't know how the whole women's thing is going to go, how it's going to go over, or what it's going to do," UFC President Dana White told USA TODAY Sports. "She's the only title fight on that card, but that card is going to be stacked."
For my money, it's a risk worth taking.
Rousey is the perfect star to usher in a new age of female MMA. She's attractive, talented, has a signature move (a devastating armbar) and an unfiltered, no-holds bar personality that is at once intense and refreshing.
But this is a big deal for women's sports in general. Too often, female competitions are given second fiddle. The WNBA is regularly the butt of jokes. Despite having the top team in the world, the United States doesn't have a sustainable women's soccer league.
Now, the UFC is fostering a legitimate star and allowing her to headline a major event. Yes, the card is stacked—White is a savvy businessman, and he knows how to cover his bases in the event Rousey isn't enough to draw major numbers—but the ladies have a chance to prove on the big stage they belong.
And that puts a lot of pressure on Rousey. She's not just fighting Carmouche, she's fighting for the right to establish herself as an ambassador for female fighting in general. Yes, if she loses the UFC will simply market Carmouche as "the next big thing."
But Rousey is tailor-made to be a star with crossover appeal. She's also chock full of classic sound bites. Put her in that Octagon and there are few people alive, man or woman, who are as bad as Rousey. I have nightmares about that armbar.
And a big win will likely set up another headlining fight that everyone wants to see—Rousey versus Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos, the woman who essentially ended Gina Carano's stint in MMA.
Oh, and Rousey has already blasted Santos for her steroid use, which will surely only stoke the fire between the two. You can't tell me you wouldn't be excited for that fight. I sure as hell would.
Women's MMA is getting a huge boost by the UFC and Rousey, and the superstar has to hold up her end of the bargain and win. I'm not betting against her.
She hasn't met a woman she couldn't defeat yet. I'm guessing the heavy weight of expectations won't be able to hold her down, either.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets are terrified of Rousey's armbar. TERRIFIED.