Not only is Ronda Rousey the biggest star in women's MMA, but it can also be argued that she is the biggest star in MMA as a whole. With that in mind, a victory over Alexis Davis at UFC 175 is paramount in terms of continuing the growth of her division.
Rousey is a perfect 9-0, and she will put the UFC Women's Bantamweight Championship on the line Saturday night. Rousey is a heavy favorite due largely to her devastating armbar, but Davis poses an interesting challenge with her jiu-jitsu background.
While parity is usually a good thing in sports, that isn't necessarily the case when it comes to a growing one like women's MMA.
There is no question that there are many skilled and talented female fighters in the UFC right now. Hardcore MMA fans are fully aware of that, but many fringe followers watch only for Rousey due to her mainstream appeal.
Having a single dominant force like Rousey is important for the sport right now. More stars will emerge over time, but nobody is ready to assume that role quite yet.
Rousey is popular not only because she is a great fighter, but also because she stars in other realms such as movies and oozes charisma as well. Some might argue that Davis might be capable of carrying the flag for women's MMA if she hands Rousey her first loss, but they are two very different people.
As pointed out by UFC Canada, Davis isn't a particularly boisterous individual:
According to MMAjunkie.com, that is a fact that Davis admits and views as the main thing that has held her back during her career:
I'm going to be fair: I kind of brought it on myself a lot. … Look, obviously Ronda got where she was. She's very vocal, and she backed it up wholeheartedly. But that's one thing I always say I've had to work on. I think I would have got a title shot long before if I had that ability more.
Fighters who refrain from talking trash can still be valuable assets, but they will struggle to carry the brand. Rousey is the total package in that regard, so it is important that she remains undefeated.
Purists will tune in to see a competitive fight, but casual fans want to see stars like Rousey win in dominant fashion. She will still have some level of appeal if she loses; however, a blemish on her record will definitely reduce the luster.
On top of that, Rousey is fully committed to leading the charge for women's MMA. It was initially revealed that Rousey planned to take some time off following UFC 175 regardless of the result, according to UFC on Fox:
Despite that, Rousey admitted that she would be willing to fight again as soon as UFC's next pay-per-view if necessary, per Marc Raimondi of FoxSports.com:
That pretty much says it all about Rousey's mentality. She will always have her detractors, and there will always be people gunning for her, but there is no questioning her importance to women's MMA.
The sport was somewhat on the ascent prior to Rousey bursting onto the scene; however, she has brought it mainstream and forced the UFC to take notice. She is women's MMA and will continue to be for as long as she remains on top of her game.
For the sake of women's MMA, a Rousey win at UFC 175 is unquestionably the desired result.
Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter