Don't Trust Dana: Is UFC 157's Liz Carmouche Better Off Losing to Ronda Rousey?
Everything should go according to plan on Saturday during the UFC 157 main event.
Ronda Rousey will storm out of the gate, eat a few punches in the clinch, then seal her seventh win with a trademark armbar submission in the first round, cementing the future of women's mixed martial arts on the sport's biggest stage.
That is, unless challenger Liz Carmouche actually beats her.
And while that would mark one of the biggest upsets in MMA history, it could also ruin everything that women's MMA has worked so hard to achieve.
UFC president Dana White has made it no secret that his interest in female fighters goes only as far as his own Rousey fandom, telling anyone who asks that she's "the only reason" women are even in the promotion (via MMA Fighting):
I don't know how long this is going to last. This could last a year. This could be forever. The 135-pound division could fill up with tons of talent, and we could have tons of great fights. I can't honestly sit here and predict what's going to happen, but don't kid yourself, this is absolutely the only reason this is happening is because of Ronda Rousey.
To date, that's practically the most commitment that White has verbally shown to the few female UFC fighters signed so far.
But is it just lip service?
Can Uncle Dana really be trusted to keep his word when he says that the women's division will continue on despite Rousey, taking their place on future pay-per-views and TV cards right alongside the men?
At the very least, he made it sound possible during the UFC 157 pre-fight press conference:
We put fights on free TV and fights on pay-per-view. These women are talented. They belong here and they're gonna come in and fight on a card whether it's pay-per-view, free TV, undercard or anything and they'll prove it. We know what we're doing. They've been training their whole lives. They're the best in the world.
And while that all sounds good on-camera, there's no telling if White be singing the same tune should Rousey suffer a violent, one-sided beating or a tedious decision loss.
Granted, hardly anyone in the media has had the guts to directly pressure the UFC president on whether the women's division will die if Rousey loses to Carmouche—but very similar circumstances like this have been seen before.
Just look at what happened to former Strikeforce superstar Gina Carano in the aftermath of her August 2009 bout against Brazilian beast Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos.
One brutal round of vicious punishment erased Carano's 7-0 undefeated streak, her fighting career, and temporarily, the future of women's MMA.
Just like that, Carano's star dimmed, leading her to find brighter lights in Hollywood.
But where Carano's loss just pushed Strikeforce closer to death, it would be far easier for the UFC to simply drop the women's division altogether.
Is women's MMA done if Rousey loses?
Each weight class needs a star. Heavyweight has Cain Velasquez. Welterweight has Georges St-Pierre and Nick Diaz. Middleweight has Anderson Silva. Light Heavyweight has Jon Jones.
And yet, famous as they are, their divisions would ultimately move on without them if they lost, retired or fell out of the spotlight.
But women's MMA might not survive in the UFC without Ronda Rousey.
That's ultimately what's at stake here.
Even with all her success, "Rowdy" could very easily suffer the same fate as Carano, especially if she's brutally beaten in the Octagon and subsequently smothered under a torrent of fan backlash from her numerous haters.
That's why Liz Carmouche, for all her ambition and luck in co-headlining this historic fight, might ultimately be better off losing.
Should "Girl-Rilla" win on Saturday, the future of the division could suddenly be in doubt. Rousey's streak would be shattered. The new face of women's MMA would be permanently bruised, forcing the UFC to shuffle the deck.
After all, parent company Zuffa wants to cut 100 more fighters.
Who's to say that the UFC's six women—four of them who haven't even fought in the Octagon yet—wouldn't be on the chopping block?
All things considered, it's a risky gamble for the challenger.
Carmouche is justified in wanting to beat Rousey, crown herself as the world's best female fighter and take home a bigger paycheck than she's ever seen in her career. But if Dana White closes the curtain on "The Ronda Rousey Show" and women's MMA, does anyone really win?
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