At a historic event in UFC history, Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche headlined UFC 157 last Saturday, marking the first time women have fought inside the Octagon.
Not only did they fight in the Octagon, but they were the main event for a major PPV event. Rousey remained undefeated and established herself as a true competitor and champion in her division.
While it is a landmark event for women fighters to make their way into the UFC, it may have come at a cost due to the delay. Other organizations have already put on women's MMA fights, as well as organizations such as Invicta, the all-female MMA promotion. The talent pool of female fighters is being tapped into already, and the UFC will want to look to get in on the action now and quickly.
Dana White and others expressed in the past that a women’s division just doesn’t have the pool of athletes to justify creating its own entity; but it seems White and the UFC are going to take their best shot. This is where the UFC could run into a problem because of the delay.
The UFC in the past years has added four new weight divisions, two of which came from the WEC merger—but this provided an already established and well-marketed group of athletes and champions.The flyweight division was the most recent creation prior to the women’s division following the merger.
What has happened is that there were a few names people already knew would be stars at 125, but beyond that, we are not so sure.
There are certainly a great number of flyweight MMA fighters out there, but most mainstream fans do not know more than a handful. Demetrious Johnson, Ian McCall, Joseph Benavidez and John Dodson are the ones that stick out, but those few are all the UFC has as far as PPV or main-event-worthy matchups, it would seem.
The flyweights will grow, and more people will make names for themselves, but that weight class may have a little easier time gaining momentum than the new women’s bantamweight division.
The late Strikeforce and other organizations have hosted female MMA bouts. With the aforementioned Invicta promotion, the athletes have somewhere to call home if it is not the Octagon.
Because women in the UFC is such a new thing, we are not sure how often women's matchups will be made. We also do not know how well the UFC will be able to market some of the women it has brought in.
Rousey was given huge support by White and the UFC, but how many others will live up to the hype like her? Lastly, with only one division and a limited roster, how will it be regulated as far as fighters getting cut? Will it be the same as the others, or more lenient?
The women’s division will probably grow and expand; but for now, it is hard to think it will remain exciting outside of Ronda Rousey in the here and now. Ronda can only fight so often, and unless Gina Carano returns or other women start marketing themselves the same way Rousey did, it will get a little stale in the near future.
There are surely some great female fights on the horizon in the Octagon, but for now, we will just have to wait and see how it is structured and developed.