Depth, Competition Will Determine Success Of Women’s MMA

Ronda Rousey submits Sarah Kaufman

Ronda Rousey vs. Sarah Kaufman

Depth an issue in women’s MMA

By James Walker

Strikeforce bantamweight champion “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey is a great flag bearer of women’s MMA. She has the ability, dedication, charisma and mainstream appeal to take the sport to new heights.

However, one fighter can only do so much for an entire sport. The future of women’s MMA, ultimately, will be determined by the depth and competition around Rousey more than Rousey herself.

Rousey won her sixth consecutive fight Saturday night by defeating No. 1 bantamweight contender Sarah Kaufman. It took all of 54 seconds. In fact, Rousey’s two title fights have taken fewer than six minutes and none have gone beyond the first round. All of Rousey’s fights have resulted in an armbar submission.

Rousey is dominating women’s MMA in the past year the same way Jon Jones has dominated the UFC’s light heavyweight division. Rousey is running through the top contenders at a rapid pace, collecting arms along the way. The major challenge for Strikeforce is continuing to find quality contenders before fans get disinterested.

Kaufman and Miesha Tate are accomplished fighters, but Rousey can break those two arms but so many times. After Kaufman and Tate, the conversation becomes thin. Some are discussing a former champion (Cris “Cyborg” Santos) currently on suspension and another fighter (Gina Carano) who is retired and happy making movies.

UFC president Dana White is a big fan of Rousey. White even wore a Rousey T-shirt recently at a UFC weigh in. Yet, White appears non-committal on the idea of adding a women’s division to the UFC.

The long-term future of Strikeforce is up in the air now that the company is under the Zuffa banner. The best male fighters will be fine and can transfer to the UFC. But what happens to top women’s fighters if White and Co. choose not to merge a women’s division? Will Rousey, Tate, Kaufman, etc. need to find a new home? Would women’s MMA get the same exposure without the Zuffa machine behind it?

A Rousey-Santos matchup – presumably in early 2013 once Santos if off suspension — does have plenty of intrigue. No fighters have dominated women’s MMA more than these two.

But who is the biggest threat to challenge the winner of Rousey-Santos? That is the current depth dilemma facing women’s MMA.

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