There are still roadblocks ahead, but the early forecast for women's MMA in the UFC looks promising.
The curtains rolled back on "The Ronda Rousey Show" at UFC 157 on Saturday night.
For the first time in UFC history, women not only competed inside the Octagon, but Ronda Rousey's bantamweight title bout with Liz Carmouche stood alone as the main attraction.
The mere idea of women headlining a UFC pay-per-view card was initially met with all-around resentment.
How could a bout between Rousey and Carmouche possibly be held in higher relevance than one between legendary light heavyweights Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida?
For Rousey and Carmouche, it was never about outdoing the men or snubbing legacies. It was about proving they belong and showing that they deserve to compete on the same stage as past and current all-time greats.
Like every man to ever step through the cage door, Rousey and Carmouche put everything on the line. It was all there—blood, sweat, heart, determination.
The crowning moment came at the end as thousands stood to applaud the women. It represented a monumental step forward in the sport. Women will now and forever be an integral part of MMA.
Here are three reasons new fans will stick around after Rousey and Carmouche.
Along with being a fierce competitor, Ronda Rousey has blossomed into one of the biggest superstars in MMA.
Her star status is just too great to ignore even for the casual viewer.
Inside the Octagon, she's a stone-faced killer, snapping limbs and dominating her opponents, and outside, she's a walking tabloid with inherently good looks and a rare ability to play off the media.
Fans may not care about women's MMA, but they do care about Rousey. There will always be a genuine interest involving everything she says and does. You don't have to like her.
If Rousey manages to tug at your emotions, she is doing her job.
"The Ronda Rousey Show" is at full steam ahead, but thankfully, the future of women's MMA won't hinge solely on the efforts of the judo Olympian.
There are a plethora of talented women fighters in the world, and UFC fans will undoubtedly be treated to some great fights.
Fighters like Sara McMann, Miesha Tate, Sarah Kaufman and Cat Zingano will be welcome additions to the UFC roster. They each have the potential to be major stars in the women's bantamweight division.
As with everything, it will take time before women's MMA receives full acceptance from fans. Hardcore fans should remember the resentment UFC president Dana White underwent when he decided to bring back the lightweight division several years ago.
As great fights unfold and stars continue to emerge, the stock of women's MMA will steadily be on the rise.
At the end of the day, fight fans will enjoy watching fights, regardless of the gender of the participants involved.
The women of the sport work just as hard as men in perfecting their craft and putting on a good show for fans.
Unfortunately, some become so hung up over the idea of women fighting that any form of rightful logic floats over their heads.
Whether they're male or female, these are all athletes striving to be the best in their sport. As fans, our entertainment is derived from witnessing the journey and seeing them get there.
If you truly love fighting, should gender really matter?