UFC-Strikeforce Merger: The Long Audition Begins for Women's MMA

PHOENIX - AUGUST 13:  Miesha Tate (L) battles with Hitomi Akano of Japan in the Strikeforce Women's Welterweight Tournament Championship bout at Dodge Theater on August 13, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Jeff D GormanSenior Writer IMarch 16, 2011

The UFC-Strikeforce merger turned the entire sport of MMA upside down and everyone is adjusting to the new landscape.

If I’m a female fighter, I’m not as happy about my place in this sport as I was a week ago.

That’s because the UFC, which now dominates the sport, has never promoted a women’s fight. UFC boss Dana White now has even more male fighters under contract from the Strikeforce roster, so don’t expect any of the women to fight under the UFC banner.

The good news is that Strikeforce will still operate under “business as usual” for the foreseeable future, so stars like Cris “Cyborg” Santos, Marloes Coenen, Sarah Kaufmann and Gina Carano will still have a place to fight.

How long will that window of opportunity stay open? The Strikeforce contract to air events on Showtime runs until 2014. However, UFC could always slam the door on Strikeforce sooner than that, especially if the Strikeforce titles are unified with the UFC belts before 2014.

So now, the women are on the clock to show they can capture the fans’ attention because after awhile, they won’t be fighting for UFC or Strikeforce.

This would open the door for Bellator, which airs Saturday nights on MTV2. Bellator has featured women’s fighters before and they could get a huge influx of established women if UFC stops promoting the Strikeforce brand.

Another option for the female fighters are the smaller promotions around the country. When I announced the “Moosin: God of Martial Arts” pay-per-view last May, everyone was blown away by the Tara La Rosa vs. Roxie Modafferi fight. If we had a rematch on a future pay-per-view, it would certainly be promoted as the co-main event.

So the audition begins. How big can women’s MMA get if Dana White sends the female fighters packing and who will welcome them into the cage when that happens?

Follow @JeffDGorman on Twitter and check out his other MMA writings.

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