For the past few months, ever since it was announced that Ronda Rousey was named the first UFC women’s bantamweight champion, the outward appearance was that women’s MMA in the UFC was all about the success or failure of Rousey.
UFC president Dana White has acknowledged that Rousey was the catalyst, without a doubt, but the women’s 135-pound division is about more than just her.
The UFC is finally putting its money where White’s mouth is by signing on several other female fighters, showing it is committed to women’s MMA, not just Ronda Rousey.
Rousey will defend her belt against Liz Carmouche in the UFC 157 headliner next week in Anaheim, Calif., and a bout between former Strikeforce champion Miesha Tate and Cat Zingano at the TUF 17 Finale in April was just announced.
Those four fighters now have two more women joining the division in Alexis Davis and Sara McMann. UFC Director of Communications Dave Sholler announced the Davis and McMann signings during a UFC 157 media conference call on Tuesday.
Sholler would not comment on whether or not Davis and McMann would actually be squaring off against one another – although that would seem a likely scenario – but confirmed both Davis and McMann will be in Anaheim taking part in UFC media activities.
Davis (13-5) was one of Strikeforce’s top contenders in the bantamweight division, having only lost to former Strikeforce champion Sarah Kaufman by majority decision in her last six fights. She most recently won back-to-back bouts over Hitomi Akano and Shayna Baszler under the Invicta FC banner, the premier women’s fighting organization in the United States.
McMann (6-0), like Rousey, is undefeated in MMA and is a former Olympian. She won a silver medal in Olympic freestyle wrestling in the 2004 Games. And like Davis, she holds victories over Baszler and Akano, and most recently fought for Invicta.
The addition of four of the top women’s fighters outside of Rousey and Carmouche gives the UFC some breathing room to start lining up the next bantamweight contender, and lays to rest speculation that if Rousey were to lose, the “experiment” would be over.