When Zuffa purchased Strikeforce a few weeks ago, one of the biggest questions that continued to come up was the future of women’s MMA. It’s no secret UFC president Dana White has never been a huge fan of women’s fighting, and with him now in control of the future of Strikeforce, many people were concerned for the direction of women’s MMA in the promotion.
White has said time and time again Strikeforce will be run ‘business as usual’ and that CEO Scott Coker has the final call when it comes to women’s MMA in that promotion.
Strikeforce hasn’t really skipped a beat, but there has already been some Zuffa influence. Specifically, there have already been some changes in the PR department and some influence over production. While the future is always uncertain to some extent, Coker has reiterated that both Strikeforce and their television partner at Showtime are committed to women’s MMA for the long haul.
“Absolutely and 100-percent yes,” Coker told MMAWeekly Radio when asked if they are behind women’s MMA moving forward. “Showtime loves the women’s fights and they’ve always had a strong rating.”
Ratings are a key point to women’s MMA. The fight in 2009 between Gina Carano and Cris “Cyborg” Santos pulled in some of the largest ratings in Strikeforce history, falling only behind Herschel Walker’s debut and Fedor Emelianenko’s fight with Fabricio Werdum.
The biggest surprise to some MMA loyalists might be the recent news revealed by Coker regarding the fights in March on Showtime featuring Dan Henderson vs. Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante, and Marloes Coenen vs. Liz Carmouche.
“I’m not sure if you guys knew this, but the last fight with Liz Carmouche and Marloes Coenen actually spiked a little bit higher than the Henderson fight against Feijao,” said Coker. “So the ratings are very strong for the female fights.”
The ratings overall for the card were down from recent Strikeforce shows with the average viewers coming in around 412,000, but still for a women’s title fight to outdraw a title bout involving an MMA mainstay like Dan Henderson still speaks to the volume of growth in women’s MMA.
The concern about the future of women’s MMA resonates amongst the fighters as well. Top 135-pound contender Miesha Tate took the news of Zuffa purchasing Strikeforce as a bad sign to the future of her career and women’s MMA as a whole, but she believes UFC president Dana White’s opinion could turn like so many have before him.
“People can change, people’s opinions can change, their minds can open up, and I mean that’s already happened a tremendous amount when you think of how far MMA has come as a whole and particularly how far women’s MMA has come. I’m hoping this could be a really good thing for the women as well because maybe Dana will give it a second though finally,” Tate told MMAWeekly.com recently.
“I really hope we can get people behind us to back us and say hey we want to watch them fight. We put on just as great of fights as the men, we enjoy it, and I hope we can get that kind of backing and support.”
Women’s fights have become a big part of Strikeforce and with the return of Gina Carano touted for the June 18 card, it’s undoubtedly going to get another surge forward.
Of course there are always uncertainties, but it appears for now Strikeforce, along with Showtime, are behind women’s MMA and hope to see it grow.