MMA Access: How The UFC Can Bank On Women’s Mixed Martial Arts
By Christopher Jester
The UFC’s first women’s match-up could not have gone any better. Ronda Rousey fought back in a spirited bout against Liz Carmouche that nearly had her losing to a rear-naked choke. But Rousey fought back showing her willingness as a champion to submit her opponent by armbar (again) in the first round (again!). With her win, it welcomed the women into the UFC on the grandest stage of them all and she defended her UFC bantamweight title for the first time.
It was not just an intriguing showcase because it was the first time women fought in the UFC, but because it was a competitive match that did a superior job closing out the show. It was an inspiring match, that showed both women each having their moments of dominance. It went on to legitimize that women’s place in the UFC is solidified and that they can put on matches just as good as the men.
With that being said, there will still be some ignorant “weirdos”, as UFC president Dana White puts it, who will aim to dissociate themselves with women in their beloved sport. It is rabidly chilling to know that there are still people out there who can demoralize women’s place or role just because of their gender. If anything, UFC 157 proved that its women fighters are equal in their fighting prowess with the men on its roster.
The credibility of women in the UFC should not be doubted at this point. Rousey’s and Carmouche’s title fight was worthy of its main event status. This is why the UFC should bank on women’s mixed martial arts as soon as they can. For those who missed UFC 157, they missed out on history and the UFC should want to put women in front of the average crowd of fans ASAP.
The UFC is doing just that as Miesha Tate and Cat Zingano will face off on April 13th at The Ultimate Fighter Finale 17. This event is a free televised event and is the perfect platform to showcase the women on national television. What makes this bout so interesting is that Miesha Tate is the woman Rousey defeated for the former Strikeforce bantamweight title and it helped boost her popularity. If she overthrows the undefeated Cat Zingano, the UFC will have ample opportunity to stimulate the rivalry between the two.
However, the UFC has just as much ammunition with a Cat Zingano victory. It could mark the first time two undefeated women fight for the UFC bantamweight Championship – another history making event that the UFC can profit from. It only helps that Zingano has only gone to a decision once in her career and has the reputation of a finisher. Two undefeated finishers for a championship is easily marketable material. Regardless of whoever wins at The Ultimate Fighter Finale 17, the UFC has material to profit from.
The challenge will be to keep the women’s division relevant. The option that makes the most sense is putting them on a higher platform frequently. The UFC should avoid putting women on the prelims as much as they can. If they decide to do so, it should be on the televised prelims on FX at all costs. As the UFC aims to increase the women’s relevancy, putting women in co-main and main event fights will give the fans the idea that the UFC is not looking to make the women a gimmick. When the UFC puts on a women’s fight they should share the head billing with a men’s bout. Either it’s a women’s fight in the main event, or a man’s fight in the co-main event or vice versa and this will show that the UFC is willing to state that men and women are equal in the UFC.
With the main event at UFC 157 a booming success, it is obvious that WMMA has cemented their place in the UFC. The UFC has to make good choices from here on out about how they are to place women in the spotlight. Sharing headline billing is one good option, but also women should find themselves placed on televised cards as well. WMMA popularity is surging, and this is the sort of popularity that the UFC wants to bank on.
Follow Christopher “sLapDatSuCKa” Jester on Twitter @sLapDatSuCka
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