UFC president Dana White recently made it official – with the signing of former Strikeforce champion Ronda Rousey – that women’s mixed martial arts has finally found a place in the Octagon… at least, for now.
White has also been quick to add that he feels there are enough quality women’s fights to be made for the next couple of years, but hasn’t laid concrete plans beyond that.
“We’re kind of playing with it and we’ll see how this thing works out,” he said following UFC 154 on Saturday night. “I know this. Over the next couple of years, we’ve got fights in the 135-pound division. Good fights.”
That doesn’t mean that he’s not serious about the bringing women into the Octagon.
He’s very serious. He’s already declared Ronda Rousey “the first ever women’s UFC champion.”
But had you asked Dana White a year or so ago, he would have told you that the women’s divisions just weren’t deep enough with talent to have them fighting in the UFC.
He still believes that to some extent, because the only division he’s committed to right now is the women’s 135-pound bantamweight division. It’s the women’s division with the deepest talent pool to draw from, and with the brightest star at the top.
As such, Rousey will be afforded the same treatment as any other UFC champion. White is expecting her to debut on a pay-per-view, possibly even headlining.
“She’s the champ,” remarked White. “Unless there’s a weight division higher than her that the champ would be defending the title, then yeah, she’d be the main event.”
He still fell short of naming the woman that will be standing across the Octagon from Rousey when she makes her UFC debut, but one name that has quickly rocketed out of favor is Cris Cyborg.
Saying that it doesn’t seem the Cyborg really wants to fight Rousey, White afforded no weight class or catchweight concessions to try and make that fight happen, as much promotional potential is it might have attached to it.
“I’m bringing in the 135-pound division. That’s what I’m doing,” said White, indicating that Cyborg would have to make the 135-pound class if she wanted to fight Rousey.
That’s not likely to happen, but for the UFC, Cyborg isn’t the focal point, Rousey is.
“I think that Ronda has the potential to be a big star,” said White. “She’s already getting media that we’ve never got before and she’s never even set foot in the UFC yet.”
Rousey is the one that the UFC is counting on to make a splash, the one that they can easily promote to force that door open for women. At the end of day, however, it will take a whole stable of fighters like Miesha Tate, Liz Carmouche, Sarah Kaufman and numerous others to establish roots in the Octagon that can’t be easily torn up.
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