(Wow, we even got *Ronda’s* attention with that troll-headline. Photo via Neil Davidson/Canadian Press)
“Rowdy” Ronda Rousey has rocketed to fame as the latest “Face of Women’s MMA,” and she’s pushed awareness and enthusiasm for her sport to new heights. Now making history as the first female champion in the UFC, it’s entirely possible that the best thing that could happen to WMMA is for Ronda Rousey to lose.
Ronda Rousey made her pro debut two years ago this March, defeating a scary Brazilian lady very quickly via armbar. Since then, she’s burst into the mainstream consciousness — as much as she can inhabit the mainstream, competing in a fringe sport like MMA —and has almost single-handedly driven interest in women’s mixed martial arts competition. Her background as a lifelong judoka and Olympic medalist immediately establishes her a legitimate athlete, while her looks have won her a bit of extra hype. Not that the hype was undeserved: Rousey has demolished her competition, notching six straight first-round stoppages by armbar.
That dominance is what gained her the attention of the man who previously maintained that he had no interest in female cage-fighting. After gaining control of a double-handful of women’s contracts when Zuffa obtained rival promotion Strikeforce, UFC president Dana White couldn’t help but change his mind about gender-equality in the Octagon. Rousey was pushing attendance, she was a moneymaker, and White chases money like a Kardashian chases famous dick: single-mindedly, without shame, and intent to take it all in. That he would also be cockblocking (snirk) another promotion by denying them the most marketable fighters in the market would just be icing on the cake.
And make no mistake: that’s exactly what’s going on here. What may at first seem like a boon for female fighters — the increased visibility of the world’s top MMA promotion in the UFC — also has the effect of skimming the top talent from the free agent pool and keeping them from Invicta Fighting Championships, a promotion that’s actually dedicated to the advancement of the women’s division.
Invicta could certainly use some of that star power right now. The fledgling promotion, just ten months into operation with its fifth show planned in April, has done a fantastic job of putting together a roster full of talent, but they’ve had to build their own stars from scratch. The shows themselves are really entertaining, but casual fans don’t know more than a few female fighters, and none of them are under contract with Invicta FC.
If Liz Carmouche manages to pull an upset on Ronda Rousey, we’ll probably see Dana lose interest in the women’s division. Zingano-Tate is already buried on a TUF Finale card, the winner would maybe get Carmouche sometime in the fall, and then all the ladies would be quietly let go. The numbers just weren’t right, they’ll say. The fans just aren’t ready.
Then, in January of 2014, Invicta FC’s eighth event — a $20 pay per view over a reliable HD stream headlined by Invicta FC Bantamweight champ Sara McMann vs rebounding “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey — breaks all previous records for WMMA audiences.
In November of 2017, Invicta will broadcast its first show on NBC, featuring five title fights ranging from atomweight to featherweight.
In July of 2023, Gina Carano will induct McMann and Rousey as part of the inaugural Women’s MMA Hall of Fame, calling their fight “the turning point” for female mixed martial arts.
In October of 2056, former UFC president Dana White drifts into his eternal slumber, whispering the name of his boyhood sled as he passes from this world into the next. Nobody is around to hear him.