Two pieces of related news broke last night that have massive implications for the future of MMA. First, Strikeforce superstar Ronda Rousey has reportedly become the first female fighter to join the UFC, and will immediately be crowned the UFC’s 135-pound women’s champion. The news was broken by TMZ, and confirmed by MMAFighting with sources close to the promotion, although neither the UFC nor Rousey have released an official statement. No word on Rousey’s promotional debut date or opponent, though her old pal Miesha Tate will apparently be a part of the UFC’s budding women’s roster as well.
It’s a historic moment for the sport, and one that’s surprising in how quickly it came together. In less than two years, we went from women will “never” be in the UFC, to women’s MMA is “absolutely going to happen” in the UFC, and much of the credit for that can be given to Rousey herself, whose nasty grappling and dude-in-a-beautiful-body appeal charmed UFC president Dana White into evolving his opinion.
Clearly, the promotion can make money off of the former Olympic medalist. The question is, who is she going to fight, and exactly how committed is the UFC to women’s MMA? Will the UFC be doing its best to fill out multiple weight divisions and regularly put female fighters on its cards, or is this just going to be the Ronda Rousey Show, with “Rowdy” armbarring whoever they can find to fight her, in relatively meaningless exhibitions three times a year? More details are expected to be announced early next week, which may shed some more insight on the UFC’s longer-term goals with their new acquisition.
And that brings us to the second bit of major news, which might even be more well-received, considering how long we’ve been begging for it…
Though it hasn’t been confirmed yet, reports indicate that Strikeforce will be folding after their next show. After Strikeforce’s last two events were canceled due to poorly-timed injuries to main-event fighters, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker promised fans a “stacked” card in january to make up for it. And yes, that event will be stacked (at least by Strikeforce’s standards), but it also could be the promotion’s last hurrah.
Slated for Saturday, January 12th, at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the card will feature the following bouts:
If Strikeforce is indeed kaput after the January show, some of these guys could be fighting to remain employed by Zuffa, which could make the vibe at the Chesapeake Energy Arena even more somber than it would be already. It’ll be a weird night, full of title fights that don’t mean jack shit, and the sense of impending doom. But hey, it’s what we all wanted, right?